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Friday, January 7, 2011

Fooling Around With Fakes

Aside from the Shetland featured in the last post, this was the first horse I rode:

My mother commissioned this 2 hh. brown gelding from my grandpa, who was pretty good with his hands. To tell the truth, I'm not quite sure how he wound up in my possession, since lop-eared Mr. Rocky Horse saw a lot of hours in the saddle from all three of us children. I guess my brothers deeded him to me since I'm the sole rider in the family. I was the one who spent a lot of time trying to braid his scraggly rope tail nicely, too. I loved him very much, but I really should have been more appreciative of this fine mount. Unfortunately my head was constantly being turned by the giant, lifelike - real mane and tail! - rocking horses sold by toy retailer F.A.O. Schwartz. Every time one of those catalogs would arrive, I'd drool over the photo (Note: this isn't the actual one, but looks a lot like it. I think they cost something like $150, a veritable fortune in the 60s, and still a darned expensive toy. Not to mention, it's rather large!):

I could just feel that genuine leather saddle under my butt, and longed to put my feet in the metal stirrups. Since I didn't seem to be getting anywhere in my campaign for a real pony, this would definitely have been the next-best thing (I sincerely don't remember a time when I didn't want a pony/horse, so I assume even at the tender age of under five this was being brought up). A decent alternative to the zillion-dollar Schwartz Horse would have been a spring horse, but one of those never turned up, either. I think Mom was smart enough to realize the noise would drive her nuts. Fortunately, my neighbor did have one and I spent plenty of happy times boinging around on hers: SCREECHah - SCREECHah - SCREECHah. Her mother was a saint - thanks, Mrs. H and T for putting up with that!
(This is billed in an auction as a "vintage" horse from the 60s... at least it's not "antique," or I'd REALLY feel old)
At any rate, Grandpa's rocking horse was a bit too frail for use by my children - he needs to see an equine chiropractor for an extremely loose neck joint - and now lives in lofty splendor on the display ledge in my bedroom. There are many other horses up there to keep him company (as you'll see in a later post).

[Regarding the other items in the photo: The Breyer horse is Buck, "Wild Horse Annie's" special Mustang. The doll is a Breyer rider which was given to my daughter, as they didn't exist when I was a child (much to my disgust). The weird-looking grey thing to the left is a homemade horse mask constructed as part of a Halloween costume. The now faded-to-purple blue ribbon dangling from the rocking horse reins may not look like much, but it is one that carries a special memory for me. It basically represents the culmination of my childhood equestrian activities, and was acquired at a 4-H show. But I'm getting waaaay ahead of myself here...]

Let's dial back the clock to Florida again. I'm 4 years old. My parents had made a great leap and moved down there after college, following a job opportunity for my dad with General Electric's PR department. But both their families were back in New Jersey, and they decided after a 5-year stint in the South that it was time to migrate back to the land of relatives, four seasons and snow. Good thing they did, because otherwise I would have learned to ride in FL and stayed Western, or switched to English and competed at HITS Ocala and played polo in Palm Beach and rubbed shoulders with Prince Charles and, well, that would have just been a TRAGEDY. ;-)

All I remember of the big move is being allowed to pick out my bedroom in our new house and sleeping on the floor the first night.

What I don't remember is asking to take riding lessons.... but ask I did, because I am proud to inform you that I was accepted as the official Youngest Student Ever by Tricorne Farm Riding School, in Holmdel, New Jersey, right as I was turning five years old.

1 comment:

  1. I was the only rider in my family, too. I think it was all my Dad's fault, because he knew some people that had a Shetland and when I was 5ish they used to let me sit on the pony whenever I was over. Then I used to get to do the hot walker pony rides at any carnival we ever went to that had one. It wasn't until I was 13 that after 7-8 years of asking and asking I finally got to take my first riding lesson..... and looks where it's gotten me... LOL. Just kidding.
    A Barrel Horse Learns to Jump


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