Borrowing Freedom

“In riding a horse, we borrow freedom” ― Helen Thompson

The Writing 101 prompt asked us to write about where we lived at age 12. In 1972, I was 12 years old. I was raised mostly in the East County area of San Diego except for two years when we moved to the Portland, Oregon area. Rather than write about where I lived, I would like to tell you about what I did.

From the time I was 7 or 8, I was obsessed with horses. Many young girls become obsessed with horses for some reason. I drew pictures of horses, I cut pictures of them out of magazines and catalogs and pasted them into scrapbooks. I wrote stories and poems. I read every horse book available at the time.Horseback-Riding

One of the happiest days of my young life right after we moved to Portland, was when my father announced that we were going to get a horse. Well, you can imagine, I probably fell on the floor from sheer giddiness.

Shortly, my dad brought home a mare which had a very young filly with her. Two horses!! Could it be true? Although my actual riding experiences were few, we saddled up the mare, named Cookie, and I quickly learned to ride at the ripe old age of 8. Many of my school friends on our street had horses. After school or on weekends, you could see a bunch of little girls riding their horses down the rural streets.

We moved again, this time to a more rural part of North-Central Oregon. One of my most memorable times riding was spent on Saturday mornings. Very early, I would get up, eat my cereal and run out to greet Cookie. My mom worked at a nursing home a few blocks away and my dad worked a second job at a gas station. The babysitter was there for my two younger brothers, so off I went!

I bridled up Cookie, and thought, “heck with the saddle” and simply rode bareback all over our four acres and into the neighborhood. I did this for several months until winter came. These were precious moments of freedom for me as the above quote suggests.There is nothing to compare to the feeling of sheer pleasure, than riding horseback as a young girl obsessed with horses.

My idyllic equestrian lifestyle came to an end when we moved back to San Diego. We had to sell the horses and I was beyond heartbroken. My obsession with horses continued; this time I collected horse figurines which I proudly displayed on my dresser. I had horse posters on my bedroom walls and I read more books. Does anyone remember reading Misty of Chincoteague? I think I asked my 4th grade teacher how to pronounce it.

Two more years went by and life went on. Right after I turned 12-years old, a girlfriend who lived down the street, mentioned something about taking horseback riding lessons. Let me just say that my heart soared again when I discovered I could walk four blocks to the home of a high-school girl who owned two horses. For TWO DOLLARS an hour, I could take riding lessons.

I spent every Wednesday afternoon for two years riding her horses and learning. She was a good teacher and part of the lesson was brushing the horses, cleaning their hooves, and bridling and saddling them for the ride. We rode through the neighborhood streets and canyons a short distance away. For that 60 minutes, freedom was re-defined in the sheer power of a galloping horse beneath me, with the wind in my hair, and not a care in the world.

Alas, a girl grows into a teenager with better things to do, leaving the obsession with horses behind.

But, the freedom I borrowed, even on a borrowed horse is, to this day, unforgettable.


Day Eleven: Size Matters (In Sentences)
Today’s Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old? Which town, city, and country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?
Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

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12 thoughts on “Borrowing Freedom

  1. I remember “Misty.” I was obsessed, too. I wonder if little girls these days are as obsessed as those of past decades. We never owned, but for a while my nextdoor plus one neighbor had a small stable and I would sneak in there and talk to and sometimes curry the horses. I’m pretty sure the owner knew, though I was “sneaky.” Riding at camp was the best time ever.

    I cannot imagine the horror of having to sell the horses. Not at all joking, I think I’d still be traumatized.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This story choked me up, Terri… As a kid in New York, horses were not a possibility nearby yet I still loved everything about them. If we’d drive to NJ or PA and perhaps see horses in the fields, I’d freak out !
    Your memories of riding horses as a kid were so vivid and I can imagine your joy in being free upon its back… What an incredible experience for a young girl.
    I still love horses to this day as I know you do too… And I remember reading Misty in elementary school too.. A friend of mine recently visited the island in Virginia and I got flashbacks of that book when she mentioned it!
    Thank you for reminding me of the joy that horses bring and the freedom they represent!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lia, for always taking the time to comment on my posts. It means a lot to me that you always have kind and uplifting words to say. And I know you comment on others’ blogs the same way!
      I was very lucky to have lived in a rural area when I was young and for some reason, those years were particularly vivid, even 45 years ago. Weird huh? I’m so glad you liked the post even though it choked you up!!

      Liked by 1 person

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