August 16, 2016

Horse Junkie

When I was little, I cared about one thing and one thing only: horses. {Not much has changed.}

I would eat, sleep and breathe horses. At the playground, my besties and I would canter around- pretending we were riding our steeds out in the wild west. I dreamed of one day having my own horse in our backyard.

I was like a junkie with a habit and my parents were total enablers- stopping me at every horse pen all across Dare County to snuggle and sniff real live horses. We befriended many horse-owners, as they'd grown accustomed to finding us in their yard. {We always asked permission. #consideratehorsejunkie}

After many visits to our friend's barn, who had become known as "GraMa" {because her grandchildren were close to my age and she had ponies, so naturally...she was my GraMa too} I began riding any spare horse or pony that was available. I was quiet and calm and was told I was a natural with the horses. I didn't know what that meant at the ripe old age of 6, but I felt pretty confident it meant I was in. #score

The summer before my seventh birthday, GraMa began telling my parents about this horse festival called Mule Days. Basically, it is Woodstock for horse people. You camp in a field with your horses for a weekend- you ride your horse (or buggy, if you will) everywhere you go, since the town is mostly shut down to vehicle traffic.

I stopped listening when she said "Eden would love it....horses.....*something something* riding....*something else* she can ride one of our horses and in the carriage"

"When is it?" my dad asked.

"The last weekend in September, every year!" she said.

Conveniently, the last weekend in September happens to fall right around my birthday. I remember the conversation so vividly.

"Daddy, I want to go to Mule Days for my birthday. I don't want a party or presents. I just want to go to Mule Days," I begged. {I remember this conversation so vividly because it happened about 9 million times before our departure}

From the twinkle in his eye, I figured he wanted to go as much as I did. Daddy loved horses and more than that- he loved seeing the joy it brought his little girl. #bestdaddyever We would ride on Sundays with GraMa and her girls and grandkids in preparation for our big adventure.

"Alright, Don...when are you getting Eden a horse," she would ask.

"If she saves her money and can buy a saddle at Mule Days, then I'll know she is serious about wanting a horse," he said.

I was on it. I put every nickle and dime into a blue velvet bag I had stashed away as a barbie-shoe holder. By the time we were packing up for Mule Days, my little bag seemed to weigh more than I did. I was sure I would have enough money for some kind of saddle. {Real dollar amount, I had about $85}

I remember pulling into town in our old grain truck- Mom, Daddy & I all crammed onto the bench seat together. The back of the truck was filled with hay and we were towing the lowboy with two carriages on the back. {#oldschoolgypsy}

"Look, a horse!! Another one!! There's two!!" I shouted.

"Calm down, bud!" Daddy said, half laughing, half aggravated with maneuvering a giant trailer through herds of folks on horses.

After settling in to what I thought was absolute heaven, we walked down to the tack vendors to start searching for the perfect saddle for the perfect amount of money. I met an older cowboy with a long-twisty mustache with nicotine stains around his nostrils. He looked gruff but approached me and my little blue bag of change.

"Can I help you find something, miss?" he asked.

"Um, well...I am here to buy a saddle. I don't have a horse yet. But my daddy promised me if I saved all my money this summer and if I bought a saddle- he would get me a horse," I explained.

I handed him the bag. As he peeked into the bag, he knelt down to be level with my eyes.

"You pick out whatever saddle you want, baby. I will throw in all the fixings," he said.

I wasn't even sure what that meant. But I left there with a beautiful black leather saddle with silver conchos, a new pad, girth, and bridle to match.

The next year, Daddy and I rode up to the same vendor on our horse, Sham, that I had gotten for Christmas a few months after my saddle purchase. I was so proud to show him all of the tack on my very own horse. {The story of how Sham arrived on Christmas morning is a post in itself.}

It takes a village to raise a true cowgirl.

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