Keeping the dream alive

BB in damSince I can remember, I’ve wanted to ride. I’ve wanted to be around horses. Somewhere there is a photo floating around of me sitting on a horse when I was no more than a baby. My dear mother was terminally disappointed when her dream of having a prima ballerina for a daughter collapsed as I gave up ballet and took up horse riding. It’s the only thing I can remember ever really, really wanting to do so badly it makes my heart ache…

But soon, just having lessons wasn’t satisfying my craving anymore, so I begged and pleaded, and somehow managed to persuade my parents to move out of the city and to a small-holding – and after some more begging and pleading, I got my very own horse! She was a very patient, kind horse who put up with an ignorant 10-year-old child who knew nothing about horses. Just like first love, nothing will ever match up to a first horse!

Now, there is something truly noble about the non-horsy parents of horsy children, let me tell you! To spend weekends by the side of a dusty arena in the hot sun, or in the rain, just so your precious little one can live out her dream, that is true parental dedication! And then we’re not even talking about the number of times my parents had to rush me to hospital for falling of some or other horse … again…

I was always jealous of the kids I knew who had horsy parents, because I always felt that I had lost out on something…that they had opportunities that I couldn’t get to…my parents could not teach me anything at all about riding, or about caring for my horses, and there was never quite enough money for me to have all the things I would have liked for my horses. I always felt that life had dealt me the short stick! I was never happy because I always knew what I wanted, but there was never anyone who seemed able to guide me in the right direction. And yet, I was given every opportunity my parents could afford. They never denied me anything they could give. And somehow, despite all my best efforts and my parents’ sacrifices, I have had the worst luck! As soon as something started working, some disaster would strike that would keep me from reaching my goal.

When I had had Pollie for just five years, and she was only 8, we were finally starting to get the hang of each other. We were really starting to communicate and understand each other when she suddenly became very ill and died. They said it was stomach cancer…I never really knew all the details, but all I knew was that it broke my heart…

My second horse was a rescue-case. It took me a year just to be able to catch her in the field. It took another year to sit on her back. But I think just the fact that I was able to ever ride her was far more rewarding than anything else I have done before or since. Love, truly can change everything.

After school I spent a year on a stud farm in Scotland. I worked hard, but probably learned more in that one year than in the 10 years preceding it. It was a good year, but then I had to come back and carry on with “real life”…Throughout University I rode a few horses for other people (although, my own terrible business skills sometimes let me down…) as well as my own, but never really got very far competition-wise. And for some reason, I have always equated success in the horse-world with competing…

During my final years of studying, using my bursary money, I bought another horse. If my father hadn’t felt sorry for me and paid my food bills and the livery both of us would probably have died of hunger, but my soul was dying…I needed to feel that bond again.

Now, I am all grown up, married with kids and the horse is staying at livery, but I still have the dream…

…that one one day…

It’s just that right now, I’m not so sure exactly what I want to be doing “one day”. Sometimes I lose track of what it’s all for…Sometimes I don’t know why I spend a third of my salary on a hobby (even if that hobby is the passion of my life) and why I spend every free moment of my time at the stables. I mean, I know why I do it…I have no choice…it’s not simply something I do, it’s who I am…but where is it all going?

It feels as if it has been nothing but an uphill battle all the way- if it isn’t horse-sickness delaying her reaching me in the Western Cape, then she is lame, or we can’t find a saddle that fits and I can’t ride for months on end…It has been one thing after another. I know this is just the way it is with horses, but I’m taking it as a personal affront!

And then just when you do manage to get going and everything seems to be running smoothly, you go and fall pregnant and everything grinds to a halt. The children take precedence (as well they should!) and parental passions get moved to the back-burner…

I want to do more than just ride. It’s been twenty years since I threw away those ballet shoes, and although I have done well in keeping the dream alive, there is so much more to be done.

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5 Responses to Keeping the dream alive

  1. Geoff says:

    Our horses got on well together ! I remember catching yours and bringing it back once…..

  2. Pingback: Balancing dreams and duty | Me, my life and I

  3. Pingback: How quickly we forget | Me, my life and I

  4. Pingback: It’s a question of priorities | Me, my life and I

  5. Pingback: I am a horsey girl, and I always will be! | Me, my life and I

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