Like Mom, Almost Like Daughter

Don’t all parents try to pass on their passions to their children? I know I try to at least share with Cait all the activities I love. Of course, the ulterior motive is to see if she’ll pick any of them up as interests, so that we can have things we enjoy doing together.

Naturally, some activities have clicked better than others; hiking, biking, going to the ballet, water color painting, and playing the piano. Most of my other interests she finds boring. And that’s okay. That leaves her lots of room to discover her own passions.

Then there are those things I got to do as a kid that Cait would love to do but I haven’t offered. Namely like having her own horse.

We had horses growing up. We had the land and barn for them. My mother worked. She figured in the long run horses were cheaper than babysitters. They sure were a lot more fun.

I loved my horse, Lujo. He was a buckskin with a smoky black muzzle and a big soft heart. Sitting his canter was like sitting in a comfy rocking chair. He looked after me as if indeed he was my babysitter. We spent many blissful hours of the day together, for years upon end.

So why won’t I get Cait her own horse?

She hasn’t proven to me that she’d do all that’s required for the care of such a large animal. She doesn’t know enough about the reality of feeding and watering and mucking out stalls every day all year long, whether the temperature reads +90F or -20F. She doesn’t know about the bruises, sprains, and broken bones that can come from landing a fall badly. She doesn’t know that horses, as herd animals, get lonely and depressed without another horse to keep them company, so having only one isn’t an option for us. She doesn’t know that I could fund half her college education with what it would cost to buy a horse, put up a barn, and then feed and vet it. She doesn’t know that horses can live for 30 years and, at this point in my life, I wouldn’t be capable of selling it after she leaves home — and I’ve already done my time shoveling stalls and breaking ice off the water in the dead of winter.

So we do the next best thing. Cait has been going to horse camp for the last few years. She gets to borrow someone else’s horse for a couple of weeks each summer. She gets her fill of riding and she has the responsibility of brushing out Charlie (that’s him below) after their workouts, mucking out his stall, and making sure he has water.


It’s a win-win situation for everybody. She can indulge in her love of horses, while learning about the responsibilities and the hard work without me having to nag her. And I get to see how all the upkeep wears on her, while being sure that she’ll never have contests to see who can jump a horse the highest while sitting on him bareback, without reins (look Ma no hands) or a hard hat, in the middle of farmer’s field with a bunch of curious cows.

Or that she’ll never put the neighborhood mean kid on her horse while forgetting to mention that her horse only lets her ride him and takes everybody else for a very fast spin, finding the shortest distance (which might or might not involve a few low-lying branches) back to the barn.

Or that she’ll never play Cowboys and Indians bareback at breakneck speeds, charging through rivers and up and down hills and galloping across fields, jumping over fallen logs and nimbly navigating around woodchuck holes.

Not saying that I ever did crazy stuff like that…

And if, in the end, this turns out to be more than a passing fancy, I might have to tell her that I know where I can pick up a couple of good saddles cheaply, and where we could find a couple of horses that wouldn’t break the bank. For now, I’m keeping that information to myself.

11 thoughts on “Like Mom, Almost Like Daughter”

  1. jenn in holland

    Just have to join the accolades for this post. And for little girls dreams come true in owning one….
    Thanks for stopping by my Emma’s blog. She is tickled that you came to comment on her last story.

    Emma is quite a good little writer! I enjoy reading her stories. 

  2. I can relate! I was the horse crazy city kid but the passion ended up with me marrying a rancher, a life I wouldn’t with anyone else.

    So that’s how you ended up living the ranching life… See — just look at where the love of horses can take somebody!  

  3. What a wonderful post! I was one of those horse crazy kids but had to wait until I was 20 and buy my own. We had 29 years together though, (he was 31 when he died) and as an old man he took my kids to horse camp. He was all the excitement I ever needed when I rode him, but he took wonderful care of them. The old $200, swaybacked, grey-muzzled, sleepy-eyed black gelding didn’t get many oohs and ahhs at horse camp, but when it came to trail classes he really showed his stuff. After all, having his rider put on a coat or take mail out of the box were an everyday thing for him.

    Sounds like our horses. No expensive thoroughbreds or fancy quarter horses. Just really good, sound, unflappable horses. I wouldn’t have traded my horse for anything.

  4. I’ve been thinking of this post all day. I love horses and I always have. Some day I’d like to have horses, but we would have to make the move to the country and there is no country in the school district we live in. Your stories of your horseback riding adventures are amazing, scary as a mom, but I wish I’d been able to pass my summers like that.

    I always really enjoy this blog. It makes me think about what’s important and what’s not.

    Yeah, now that I’m a mom, scary to me too. Though none of us were ever hurt — horses or kids — while on our escapades through fields. Lots of funny incidents but no injuries. Any injuries always happened inside the ring. And the only serious injury was a broken arm. My brother fell off his horse and somehow landed under my horse. My horse reared to try to avoid stepping on him. He missed his head and landed on his arm instead. All things considered — that was a very lucky day.

    I always enjoy your comments. They make me think as well. 

  5. Ah, more in common! Keira just finished her first week of horse camp. She wants a horse desperately. As we live in a little town, she knows it can’t happen, but she’s heard of boarding. If ever I win the lottery I’ll hit you up for your secrets!

    LOL! I’ll be glad to share should the time come!

  6. I should also add that when I was growing up, you didn’t have to be rich to own horses. We weren’t. It would be much harder (and more expensive) to recreate for Cait what I had.

    And even though we were always inventing games and dramas to play with our horses, we were eminently careful and responsible with them. In other words, no horses were harmed in the making of this post. :)

  7. Your childhood stories sound similar to the ones my trainer tells about her first horse experiences. Although I longed passionately for a horse as a child, I didn’t start learning to ride until I was almost 30.

    I agree about the difficulties of taking on a 30 year long (and expensive) commitment. For the three retirees here right now (only one of which is ours, fortunately) I am putting out one bale of hay a day. At $9 a bale delivered, it adds up. I don’t expect Rags, Jack’s 22 yo Appy, to make it past his mid-20s, because eventually we won’t be able to keep him comfortable with his Navicular problems. However Hap is quite sound and seems healthy at 22, and I do hear of Thoroughbreds getting to quite advanced ages these days.

    I haven’t done any serious riding in years and have just recently thought I’d like to get back into it. I figure as long as I have to hang out at the barn while Cait’s riding, I might as well join in. Yes, keeping horses is such a huge commitment; this arrangement really does seem the best of all worlds for now. I’m glad your Hap is well, and will hope that however many years Rags has left, he is able to live them comfortably. They sure do have a beautiful spot to live them out.

  8. Wow I think every little girl who had the “I want a horse!” fantasy would go ga-ga over this post! :)

    Yeah, I know when I was young, just seeing a picture of a horse would make me go ga-ga!  

  9. :D, that’s some hilarious childhood stuff that you did. Did you ever play polo? We had 1 cow when I was growing up but no horse unfortunately.

    Polo? Of course. On bareback (seems we were always on bareback…). With soccer balls and sticks.

  10. I can only say, if Cait has even the slightest of desires to own her own horse I hope that she does not discover this website until you’re sure it’s “more that a passing fancy”.

    If there had ever been a whisper of a chance that I could have had a horse as a child I would have worked every angle imaginable.

    This post brought back many childhood memories of the horse I always dreamed of owning.

    I’m holding out for Cait to have her own some day, I know it will offer some special moments for you to share together with her.

    It does seem to be most every girl’s dream, doesn’t it. :) 

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