Saturday, 18 August 2007

when wishes are granted

recently i read a blog about a girl child who shows and jumps horses. the blog was written by a vegan in search of answers. started me thinking, which started me remembering ...

i have no idea how old i was when my obsession with horses began, as far back as i can remember, i wanted a horse of my own. every time it was wishing time, i wished for a horse. blowing out the candles on my birthday cake, stirring the silver tickeys and christmas charms into the christmas pudding bowl, see a falling star ...
i always made the same wish ... "please, let me have a horse".
my parents did not ride, i had never ridden a horse. in our family we never wanted for life's little necessities but riding lessons never fell into the category of necessary. in my folk's minds, riding lessons probably did not even figure in their 'nice to have' list!
so i wished and wished, i read books about horses, i adorned my dresser with horse ornaments, i spent my pocket money buying cheap framed prints of ...horses.
i was eleven when my dream came true, the circumstances of our life collided in the most serendipitous manner. my folks had built a house on the six acre smallholding we owned in pietermaritzburg, my godmother knew someone who was looking for a new home for a horse. my lucky day, whiskey came to live with us.

when it comes to horse riding, i guess it takes two to tango! the horse as a youngster is "broken", nasty word! he is taught to accept the bridle, a saddle and a human on his back ...preferably a human who knows what they are about when it comes to horse riding. i now had the horse and the bridle, no saddle and no idea of how to ride a horse. none of this mattered to me, i was eleven and my dream had come true.i learned to ride bare back, i never learned how to control my beloved whiskey, he was definitely his own horse. he would come when i called him, he would allow me to put on his bridle , he would allow me onto his back, i think he quite liked me, i adored him. truth was, the horse sensed my lack of experience, he was bolshi and stubborn, he went when he felt like it and where he felt he had a need to go.
there was a very long earth road leading to our house, i would mount whiskey and my younger brother , rod, would walk in front with a carrot or some other sweet horse temptation. at the bottom of the driveway whisky received his treat ... at which point he would turn his nose to home and thunder off. fairly often he would stop halfway ... without warning and i would go flying over his head. whisky was always very conciliatory after these little events, he always waited for me to haul myself to my feet or to regain consciousness. he would stand over me, breathing horsey breath and nudging me!riding without a saddle, one is in pretty close contact with the horse and horses have their own wonderful horsey smell. drove my mom crazy ... "eryll... you stink of horse!!!"

every year in pietermaritzburg we enjoyed varsity rag, a day students went crazy, drum majorettes marched and wonderful floats paraded through town ... all to collect vast sums of money for local charities. william, a varsity student who lived on the smallholding next door to ours ...asked to ride whiskey in the float parade. his group of students had built a huge dragon float and william was to be st. george on his trusty steed defeating the fire breathing dragon. luckily, william knew how to ride and whiskey must have had a history of performing somewhere in his background. what a show ... he pranced, he danced, he tossed his magnificent head at the crowds ...william and whisky fought the fire breathing dragon, over and over. as a treat, rod and i were allowed to ride inside the dragons belly, together with quite a few rather inebriated students! what a wonderful day!

eventually ny mom aka moving min decided we had sojourned on the small holding long enough. time to move into the suburbs! it is remarkably easy to find a new home for a horse and whisky went to live on a rather grand farm...with stables...
his new owner was a girl called peta, she had endured riding lessons and knew how to ride, whisky would be pleased. of course, my heart broke a little...i lost the smell of him, the feel of him, his company and his love. i have never lost the memory of my beloved horse and those halcyon days.

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