Every once in a while, things go exactly how you think they will.
It’s a rare occurrence, to be sure. Seldom does life go precisely to plan, especially in these uncertain times.
But some things play out exactly as you predict they will. Especially when you have a horse-crazy girl.
A little more than a year ago, I spent time in this column space detailing my daughter Charley’s then-reasonably-nascent affinity for horses. About how she reads books about horses and collects Breyer horse models and has posters of horses on her bedroom wall and even plays video games about horses.
At that point, she was also beginning to try her hand at riding horses, as well, often visiting a friend’s family farm and learning some of the basics. It wasn’t hard to see where things were headed.
And a year later, we are there. We are a horse family.
No, we do not own a horse. At least not yet. I’m still resisting that step with all my might, for a number of reasons, including the fact that we live in a suburban subdivision and, uh, have no room for a horse. Or a horse trailer, for that matter. I’m pretty certain you can’t hitch a horse trailer to a Nissan Rogue, anyway.
But we’ve gone pretty far down the trail. After starting riding with family friends, Charley then spent a while taking private lessons from an experienced rider in a neighboring town, where she picked up some valuable skills, at least for a beginner.
And then, a few months ago, she hooked on with a trainer at a nearby barn, and things got a bit more serious. There are a number of young ladies who ride the horses from this particular barn, and they are, essentially, an equestrian team. They go around and do shows on the weekend and everything. Charley had her first show last weekend and even earned a few ribbons in competition.
If you’ve followed along with this column through the years, you can probably guess I haven’t previously spent a lot of time in horse stables and hanging around horse farms. I have seen some movies about horses. “Seabiscuit” was a good one. So was “War Horse.” And the scene where Artax sinks in the Swamp of Sadness in “The NeverEnding Story” still kills me. But, like, actual horses? I didn’t know any.
But then I met Keros.
Keros is the horse Charley has been riding for the past several months, and the one she rode in her recent show. Keros is 24 years old and can be a little feisty if you bother her while she’s eating hay, but is otherwise an exceptionally kind animal. At last weekend’s show, which was in Camden, I had a little one-on-one chat with Keros in the stable before they went out to the arena, and asked her to take good care of my little girl. She didn’t let me down.
Charley has learned much in a short period of time from her trainer, Ms. Lauren, and from the other young ladies at the barn. It’s a well-mannered, responsible, helpful group of kids, and they all seem extremely happy to be there.
And I’ve learned a couple things, too. Like how to “tack up” the horse; i.e. get it saddled up and ready to ride. Charley does most of the prep, and basically keeps me around to hoist the saddle up onto the beast. If you ever need a monosyllabic lug to help move something heavy, I’m your guy,
So, we don’t yet own a horse. But we spend hours every week at a barn and we tack up horses and we shop at saddlery stores and, apparently, compete in horse shows. And we’ve made a new friend named Keros.
Imagine where we’ll be in a year.