when i was in the third grade, the annual school musical had everyone divided up into teams and each team was assigned an animal. my two best friends got placed into the ‘cats’ group. the three of us had spent our entire academic careers writing stories about our cats, drawing cats, and, well, being obsessed with cats.
i was placed into the ‘horses’ group. and i was devastated.
my mom, however, was quick to point out that rightfully so i should be a ‘horse’. her parents owned a horse farm north of the city—her father had been a genuine cowboy as a teen and then trained and bred thoroughbred race horses. on my dad’s side, his father was a painter and almost every work featured strong, powerful equine forms.
“no matter what you do, you’re always going to be connected to horses,” my mom said. i stayed in the horse group.
and, sure enough, by grade four everyone was passionate about horses. my friends and i created imaginary horses that we rode around the school yard. then we started writing books about our grown-up selves, reconnecting years later at a ranch that i owned. (um, and solving mysteries on horseback while we were at it!)
but aside from spending time at my grandparents’ farm and taking riding lessons at summer camp, my obsession with horses was rather distanced. it became even more fragmented after all my grandparents passed away and the family farm was sold. yes, my apartment is decorated with various equestrian mementos—such as a painting my opa did of a six-year old me on a huge stallion and race winner photographs that include various members of my family from decades ago… but it’s just not enough.
i’ve started taking riding lessons. and. i. love. it. J gave the first batch to me as a birthday present, and today i just signed up for more. yes, it’s totally intimidating—the instructors are serious, the horses are powerful, and there’s third grade-aged children who are years ahead of me in terms of skill and talent. i have so many questions about horse training and wish my grandpa was still around so he could teach me. but then… i finish a lesson and it’s all reconfirmed: i’m just always going to be connected to horses. so i might as well know how to ride them.