Being a ten year old suddenly thrust out of city life and onto a ten-acre farm full of various smelly animals with smelly chores was... different, to say the least. However, as a child, I always knew city life wasn’t for me; while animals smelled, the pollution that clouded the skies of the city was much more unpleasant in my opinion. The open, country air? That was absolutely amazing. But the best part of it? Receiving my own horse, every ten-year-old girl’s dream. Her name was Zipper, she was a retired show horse who couldn’t be part of that world anymore due to arthritis in her legs. Her medical costs were too high for her previous owners to maintain while not getting anything in return for it, but she was perfect for me. A 16 hand quarter horse, black and sleek, she still was something to behold, even if she couldn't fit her use, anymore. My mother got me her as something of an apology for changing my life in such a drastic way, but ... the truth is, I think we both needed each other.
Even though Zipper had lived the life of a show horse, she was a bit stubborn. While her illness took her from the fancy footwork of shows, she was still good enough to ride ... If she would let you. She wasn't a problem horse, but ... She certainly could use some work. Maybe she was upset that she went from something more exciting to quiet farm life. ...Much like the little girl that was her new owner. While I was frustrated with her at first that she wouldn't do all of the cool "horse things" that a little girl would want her to do, I understood her after I looked at things her way.
Giving her some time, we became inseparable. I think that Zipper, too, understood me. She may have been stubborn, but she was smart. I think she understood that we both came from the same type of busy world, only to be thrust out of it to a dingy farm in the middle of nowhere. We bonded like no other -- She wouldn't even let my sister ride her, throwing her off into the fence when she tried!
Even with that, though, Zipper became accustomed to her new life. She would wander out into the fields, would come up to the fence to see visitors that came by ... No longer was she a shy, stressed horse, but was enjoying her cozy farm life. The same thing could be said about me. After only a few months, I couldn't fathom living in the loud and busy city, anymore. The long bus rides to school were about the worst part of living in the country, now -- And those couldn't hold a candle to how freeing it was to be so connected to an amazing creature that understood me on such a profound level.
It's been over fifteen years, now, since I moved away from the city. While Zipper may not be with me anymore -- She was already an older horse when I got her, after all -- I still think of her every day, and I can't be more thankful to her for helping me open my heart to a new life. I like to think that she thought the same thing about me, too.
Photo courtesy of Gary Ullah