The Birthday Pony

You know those little girls who lie in bed dreaming of horses?

Much to my mother’s dismay, I was not one of those little girls. I did not catch the horse bug, and neither did my sister. Maybe we didn’t dream of ponies because we already had horses in our backyard? My sister and I both love animals, but at ages 32 and 29 we both only have one dog a piece and that’s probably how it’s going to stay. By this point, my mother had an entire menagerie, including the horse she got for free from a lady in a pet store when she was 16 years old.

I know when you every time YOU walk into a pet store, someone offers YOU a free horse, right? Wait, they don’t? That’s not normal?

If you haven’t caught on by now, that’s how things work in my mother’s world.

When my mother was my age, 32, I was 7 years old and she was adding a second horse to her hobby farm. For my 7th birthday, my mom gave me a pony. This sounds like every spoiled little rich girl’s fantasy. When I say I got a pony for my 7th birthday, I SOUND like a spoiled little rich girl, but I swear it wasn’t like that. When you have horses in your backyard and your mother loves to go trail riding and wants to take you along, at some point you are going to get your own horse.

At this point in my life, I was taking horseback riding lessons. This also makes me sound spoiled but how else is a (hobby) farm girl going to learn how to ride? My parents got me an underweight oversized pinto pony who may or may not have been abused by her previous owners. My dad’s favorite story to tell about my pony is that when they were test-driving her, they were trying her bareback. My pony tried to take off when my dad was trying to mount her and he slipped and banged his torso against her body. She was so thin that he cracked his rib on hers.

We named her Gypsy, and she was pretty wild like a Gypsy, at least when I rode her. She had a very sensitive mouth and, well, I was a SEVEN YEAR OLD, so I’d yank too hard or fidgit too much and she’d go bucking across the arena. That horse reared up on me so many times! One time she went so far up, I really thought we were going to fall over the other side.

What’s amazing about Gypsy’s crazy antics in the arena is that I almost never fell off. She would buck and rear all over the arena and I would keep my seat. I have a terrible sense of balance on my own two feet, but I can sure keep myself on a horse. In fact, I don’t think I ever fell off of Gypsy. All the falls I remember happened on my sister’s gentle, quiet pony Piper. Piper was such a perfect pony that you never expected him to misbehave. I fell off twice when he stopped short before a jump, once when the saddle I was riding in was somehow too loose and literally slid beneath him with me on top of it and once when he spooked without warning when a hawk flew up out of high grass while we were cantering through a field. I always expected Gypsy to try to dump me, so I stayed on better. When Piper dumped me, I never even had a chance to try to hang on because I wasn’t expecting it from him! (What the hell are you supposed to do when your SADDLE falls off anyway?)

Even though I was with my parents when they were pony shopping for me, I screamed with excitement when my mom revealed Gypsy, who was decorated with bows or streamers or something, at my kid birthday party. I’m still not sure what I was screaming about. I KNEW my parents had gotten me a pony. I KNEW I was getting her for my birthday, but I still screamed like an idiot when I saw that pony with streamers on her.

Since I didn’t turn out to be much of a horsewoman and Gypsy wasn’t so easy to ride, Gypsy didn’t turn out to be a forever pony with my family. She moved on to a new owner after a few years, but I’ll always remember screaming like an idiot when I got a pony for my 7th birthday even though a) I knew I was getting a pony and b) I wasn’t one of those girls who was dreaming of horses.

Even now, I don’t really enjoy riding. Actually, I like trail-riding very much, but I hate all the dirty, nitty-gritty and time-consuming grooming and horse prep that goes with riding. Maybe I’d like riding more if I were super rich and I had someone to do all the prep work and clean up that goes with horseback riding, but as it is I’ll stick with indoor pets and hiking when I want to be in the woods.

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One Response to The Birthday Pony

  1. Nonni

    Hmmm…It’s interesting what a child’s mind remembers as an adult! Gypsy was very thin and undernourished when we got her. We had to try her out bareback as they didn’t have a saddle for her and we didn’t have one with us. Daddy did break a rib by mounting her but she was standing perfectly still at the time. He threw his stomach over her back to mount and his rib hit her withers. That is how he cracked it! She didn’t do anything wrong. If she had, we wouldn’t have bought her for you. We had her on trial for a week and she was very quiet. However once she was well
    -fed and nourished she picked up energy which we had expected. She also became more reactive. She never ever bucked but she would pick her front feet up off the ground if she got bumped in the mouth. She never reared all the way up, just a maybe a foot or so off the ground. She was a great little horse, just too sensitive for a beginner rider. Once we got Piper, Becca’s pony, who was a perfect kid pony, you both preferred him to Gypsy. Since no one wanted to ride her, with your permission, we sold her to a home where an adult would be using her.
    Also, we did not give her to you during a party. We did, however, decorate her with colorful ribbons and a paper wreath around her neck and presented her to you in the front yard. That part was right! :)

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