I grew up on the back of a horse.
Until my parents divorced when I was about nine years old, our home and our lives were centered around the many horses that my father owned, boarded and trained.
In fact, the horses were partly the cause for my parent’s divorce.
My father loved them, and my mother did not. My father was willing to incur the inordinate expenses associated with owning horses and my mother was not. Horses became a dividing line between my mother and father, and while it was more than the horses that broke them apart, they played a role.
Nevertheless, horses were everything to me.
I competed in horse shows with my father.
I mucked stalls, brushed coats and loaded hay into the barn’s loft.
I was bitten, kicked and stomped on by horses, sometimes accidentally and many times on purpose.
A horse once bolted into the back fields while I desperately clung to its back, absent any saddle or reins. It was a harrowing ride that I will never forget, because of my fear of falling as well as my awareness that no one was chasing after us.
The horse eventually brought me back home about an hour later when he became thirsty.
Stories like that fill my early childhood.
So when my friend sent me these images of my daughter on the back of a horse for the very first time, I was both elated to learn that she was brave enough to climb aboard and a little saddened that I was attending a literary festival in in Brattleboro, Vermont festival at the time and was not there to witness it for myself.
We cannot always be there when our children take their first steps, but this is one that I wish I had seen.