Ever since I can remember, I wanted a horse. Any time my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday or for Christmas, I told them, “a horse.” They explained the impracticalities to me and the expenses, but I still persisted in my request. And, for years, I religiously submitted my entries for winning a horse through Horse & Rider Magazine, praying each time that I’d win.
From a young age, I rode horses during summer camp. When we moved to Dallas in ’78, I started taking Saturday lessons at Merriwood Ranch. I think it cost $7 per hour back then. As I got older, I spent more and more time at the barn. I did anything to be around the horses. I helped groom and saddle, feed and turnout. I was delighted when a horse needed some exercise (a free ride!) or the teacher needed help. I always had a favorite horse – for a long time it was March, then Starsky and Beau…
While my other friends ran track or played volleyball or other school sports, I stuck with riding. I LOVED it.
When I turned 16, unbelievably, my dream came true. My parents bought me a horse. And, not just any horse, but the best horse EVER. Ralph was half quarter and (more importantly) half Arab. He was spirited (the people that sold him couldn’t keep their kid on his back for all the bucking he did) and he was gorgeous. He had a pink nose, a lot of personality, and came for carrots when I called him.
When it was time for college, I made sure I found one with a barn near by. When I moved back to Texas after school, I made sure Merriwood had room for us again. And, when I got married and moved to Missouri, the first thing I did was find the right barn for Ralph.
Soon after getting married, Dan and I worked two jobs each to earn the money to buy some land where we could build a house and keep Ralph. We were successful, and as soon as the house was finished, we put in a horse-worthy fence and moved Ralph to his new home. We also became hay farmers
When I became a mother, my firstborn got his first ride on Ralph.
As did my second born:
Several years ago, when Dan accepted a job that we knew would require several moves, we decided that it would be too hard to move Ralph around with us. With a prayer in my heart, I called Merriwood and thankfully, they were willing to welcome him back “home.”
After returning to Merriwood, Ralph was well taken care of and loved my many. Just a few days ago, despite his 33+ years, he still had a rider on his back. After some serious stumbles, though, he was officially “retired.” I guess he didn’t like retirement, though, and headed off to the greenest pastures there are.
I had a bucking good time!