I was 12 years old when my mother took me looking at horses to buy for a friend of a friend who had a son who was at about the same level as me. I was allowed to look after and ride the horse until Christmas, when the horse would then be given to the other kid (or so gullible 12 year old me thought).
After trying quite a few horses, we went to a dealer's yard to try a grey arab x welsh pony called Wombat. When we pulled into the driveway the horse had his head over the gate and I thought he was the most regal, stunning creature I had ever seen in my entire life.
I had fallen in love right then and there. But the ride on him changed my life forever. I had been a nervous rider, having only ever ridden in lessons and the occasional supervised trail ride at walk only. This pony though, I felt 100% comfortable from the second I was boosted onto his back. I walked and trotted around a little round yard for a while, loving his willingness to do what I wanted and to go where I wanted.
Now, this round yard was in a paddock that backed onto a train track. When I heard a train coming I felt my nervousness return - I wanted to jump off but I didn't have the time before the train was almost going past us anyway. I was worried the horse would spook and that I would fall off, but the horse continued as if the train was not even there. Those few seconds changed me as a rider - I wanted this horse, for as much time as possible. He was the one for me for the next few months, anyway.
After the ride I was standing with the horse patting him while my mother and her friend whispered to the dealer. I was happy, as I was about to have a pony of my own for a little while.
My mother's original plan was to tell me on Christmas Day that Wombat was my pony as a surprise, but she didn't have the heart to keep it from me. She told me in the car ride home in between me jabbar jawing "Wombat this... Wombat that... Isn't he the most beautiful horse you have ever seen? Wasn't he brave with the train? Wombat Wombat Wombat!".
|Obviously not 12-year-old Lisa.|
I was stunned into silence, then I am sure I screamed and cried and yelled all the way home. Then once I was home, I proceeded to call every person I knew to tell them I had a pony of my own - forever.
|This, dear readers, is what we like to call in Australia a 'bogan'. Note safe footwear and top notch helmet.|
That horse gave me everything. His hooves were the hooves I learned to trim on. He was the rock I needed to survive a broken family when my parents divorced, relentless bullying at school, first, second, third and fourth boyfriends and the first three's associated break ups, you name it. That first ride on him changed my life, and me, into the sound, happy, well rounded, healthy self-esteemed person that I am today. I can never repay him and I often dream of seeing him again in another life.