Although I grew up with horses and we had many over the years, my first true love of a horse was a grade Morgan mare named Minnie. She was the most beautiful horse in the world, to my young and naive eyes; she was my best friend, my closest confidant and I was pretty sure that together, we could do anything. And we did– everything from jumping to barrels to running bareback and bridleless through the orange groves (in my home town of Orlando). To a shy little girl who had trouble making friends, this horse gave me confidence and independence—qualities that I draw on as a sense of strength today.
We had other horses when I was growing up and some naughty ponies that took great delight in going under low branches or rubbing you off on tree-trunks (the school of hard knocks), but Minnie was my soul mate. She would do anything I asked without hesitation (because she knew I would never abuse that privilege) and we seemed to have that psychic connection that is somewhat rare with horses—not everyone gets to experience this and I have always believed that it is an extreme honor to have this kind of horse once in your lifetime (but I confess I’ve had 3—more than my share).
I was a card-carrying member of the “Justin Morgan Fan Club” back in the 60s and I have retained my love for the breed ever since. In fact, one of my bonus “horses of a lifetime” was another Morgan mare, Pepsea (this time purebred and a prime representative of the breed). She came into my life 20 years ago and is still alive and active; I still own her though I no longer ride her (she is leased out to someone who gives her the attention she deserves). Although I also have an affinity for Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds and other breeds, Morgans have a special place in my heart because of Minnie and because I love their go-for-it, do-anything work ethic and their athleticism.
If I were to tell tales about my first horse, Minnie, there would be many stories of adventure and accomplishment but the thing I think about the most was seeing her run full-speed through the pasture with our family dog (a German Shepherd—the must-have dog back in the days of Rin Tin Tin) latched firmly onto her long bushy tail, dragging the dog behind her like he was water skiing in the dirt. They did it frequently and both seemed to love that game although the human observer could never actually figure out why either animal was attracted to it. I guess they had a psychic connection too.
We have been collecting stories of people’s first-horse stories and the response has been huge. Some have suggested it is good material for a book—and I am not surprised because the stories make for very poignant reading. Those of us who are smitten with the horse bug have been influenced tremendously by our experiences with horses and the indelible impression they have made on us. I love reading them and even after my lifetime with horses, I still am amazed by their strength, willingness and ability to challenge us in ways we never thought possible. I am lucky to have yet another “horse of a lifetime” currently; Dually, my big black Quarter Horse, who can also do anything you ask and who tries harder than any other horse I have ever known, but Minnie will always and forever be my first love. BFF.
Enjoy the ride,