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A Love of Horses

Updated on November 1, 2020
Christmas Pony Ornament
Christmas Pony Ornament

A Pony for Christmas

No matter how many times I was told by family and friends that I wasn't going to get a pony for Christmas I asked for one anyway. I'd still write my annual letter to Santa asking for a pony fully expecting it to be there on Christmas morning.

The reality was we had no place to keep a pony at our house. Our yard was small and the detached garage had a car, bikes, lawn mower, and tools filling it up. No room for a pony stall or a place to graze or run around in our yard either. That didn't stop me from wanting one or asking Santa to drop one off for me. I wanted my very own pony to ride, groom, feed, and pet. I also planned on letting all the neighbor kids take turns riding it too.

Horse Collection
Horse Collection

Pony Rides at Festivals

The main attraction at the fair grounds for me were the ponies. I would run to buy my ticket and stand in line with the other horse crazed children. It didn't matter to me that the ponies only went one way in a circle or that their hooves barely left the ground.

I was just thrilled to sit in the leather saddle, on top of a real live pony. My feet barely touched the silver stirrups, but I hung on tight to the saddle so I wouldn't slip off. I'd often pretend the pony was mine giving it a new name if I didn't like the one it had. I'd comb out the tangles in it's thick mane with my small fingers while we rode around and around kicking up dust along the way.

Endangered Wild Mustangs

Horses to Ride

The pony I asked for every Christmas never did show up, but that didn't stop me from finding horses to ride. A friend of mine in high school had a gentle gray and white spotted Appaloosa that she let me ride occasionally. I was in seventh heaven riding this big beautiful horse bare back in the tall grass on that Wisconsin farm.

Years later while living in Boston, MA I found a riding stable with well cared for horses and great trails in Jamaica Plain, MA. It was not far from my apartment so I would go there on the weekends to ride for a few dollars an hour. The trails were lined with wild flowers and woods open enough to trot and run the horses. Riding in the fall was pure magic when the sun cast colorful shadows of red, yellow and orange across the trails as we rode along.

My copy of the Album of Horses.
My copy of the Album of Horses.

Amazing Horses

One of my favorite horse books I've had since childhood is The "Album of Horses" by Marguerite Henry. I've looked at it hundreds of times reading the descriptions and looking at the pictures of each horse. I'd imagine what it would be like to see them in real life and to eventually ride them.

I marked my favorite horses with little stars in the table of contents which included; the Arab, Thoroughbred, Morgan, Appaloosa, Quarter Horse, and the Palomino. Illustrator Wesley Dennis captured the essence of each horse in his detailed sketches and beautiful paintings.

Childhood Carousel Rides

When real horses or ponies were no where to be found a carousel ride at the Henry Vilas Zoo or Ella's Deli in Madison, Wisconsin would do just fine. Going to the zoo or Ella's was always a treat, but getting to ride on the carousel made it all the more special. I would run in between the various animals and would inevitably wind up on the back of a horse if one was available.

© 2011 Laura Ross


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