When my great grandmother was 7 years old, dare I say it?

She was a horse thief. Back then, court day came once a month and spectators packed their lunch for the day’s entertainment. The doors opened at 9, and you were locked in until 4 when court adjourned.

My daredevil of a great grandmother would wait until those doors locked, and then untie her favorite steed from the hitching post to ride almost all day; bringing him back about 3 to stand and cool off. She once overhead an unsuspecting owner of one remark, “Boy! Ole Sparky sure did get sweaty standin at the rail today!” And him not knowing his horse had pacified the need to ride temporarily for a little girl who was born with a passion for horses.

I too, inherited this love for them, but my mother was afraid of all sizes and manner of equines, and very rarely was I allowed around them. She just couldn’t overcome it, even though she knew I longed to be around them.

On the few occasions I got to play with ponies, I remember the sense of awe and wonder I had when I peeped in the doorway of each new barn and saw the layout and the different horses within. I avidly read anything pertaining to horses and would silently name each snip, stocking or color. I would identify bits in my head and think about what color saddle pad this horse or that one would look best in.

I finally got to really learn to ride 14 years ago as an adult, and today not only do I work for HOP, and therefore can say I am responsible for 50 some rescue horses’ welfare, I also help run a public riding stables with 50 or so horses. That’ll teach you a great deal about every aspect of horses, their care, and horsemanship.

And still today, not always, but sometimes, I walk into barns with wonder. Because I get the privilege of not just riding, but improving the lives vastly of the horses under my care.

If you have a child who eats, talks, and dreams of horses constantly, I urge you to find a way to feed that passion. Horses literally change a person’s life.

The lessons they teach you, the mirror they are, and the sense of responsibility that good horsemanship requires, are all things that serve a person well over a lifetime.

And you wouldn’t want your child to be a horse thief, would you?

– Suzanna