My parents didn't have a lot of money but I was still blessed to have horses as a child. I was very blessed, but yet oblivious to those blessings. We lived in the country and my dad was a farmer with a big hog operation and crops, making it possible for us to have horses in our 'backyard'. In fact, that was how he convinced my city-dwelling, horse-loving mother to move to the country, with the lure of keeping horses at home. However, since we were backyard horsemen, we didn't follow what all the books and glossy magazines said. There were times that I felt at a disadvantage. After all, all those books and magazines showed how real horsemen kept their horses. Since I was obedient, I didn't whine - much - although I did have a great imagination which lead to dreaming and imagining.
At shows - I only did 4-H and county fair gaming events - I had fun, but couldn't help from noticing the big shiny trucks and trailers other girls had, their expensive horses and tack, and hear about their lessons and horse camps with envy. My pony was a grade mare, sold as a Saddlebred horse-pony, that looked a bit out of place among all the Quarter horses in the Western events, but we made it work. We did respectably, even placing 7th in the State Fair Halter class one year. However, while competing in gaming, I always looked enviously at the others with their built-for-speed-events Quarter horses.
Now that I'm an adult with children of my own, I look back and see what my parents did for me with awe. They scrimped and saved to provide me with horses to love. My dad worked long hours on the farm and as a millwright, then also worked on horse fencing. Mom was usually the one that was left helping me with tack, training and safety. They begged and borrowed to find a trailer so I could go to shows since we didn't have one. I was grateful at the time, but looking back, I know I fretted more about what I didn't have than acknowledged what I did have which was vastly supportive, giving and sacrificing parents that gave their all so I could have a pony to love.
We didn't have an expensive barn with a perfect board fence and manicured pastures. What we had was no less appreciated by our horses though and taught me to work with what's available and work hard. My pony wasn't an expensive Quarter horse with professional training and I didn't take lessons, but what I had taught me responsibility and the importance of independent study. Training a high stepping Saddlebred pony with a neat little driving gait to not only do gaming events, but also do her best at other Western classes, trail riding and pulling a cart taught me to think outside the box. I worked very hard to make her the best athlete possible with her conformation.
All these things made me a better horseman and were incredibly valuable for me for life in general. Life doesn't always hand you the perfect tools, but sometimes the lessons you learn when dealing with those imperfect tools help you in ways you never would have thought. Thank you mom and dad for teaching me through your sacrifices how to be a better person, ready to handle all life could throw at me. I only hope my children can learn the same lessons.