Today I'm welcoming Jenny Anderson to Terry's Place. Jenny grew up bouncing between city and farm, hating cities yet spending her whole adult life in them. She's been a wife, mother, geologist, mineral museum curator, soda jerk, materials analyst, antique jewelry dealer, and student. Her master's thesis turned into her first published book.
Little girls love horses. Well, most little girls love horses. Why? Let's not even go there. Freud weighed in on this subject...enough said. I don't care if there's some deep sexual meaning to the love of horses, don't care if it's mastery of a big, powerful creature, don't care if it's power or speed or learning responsibility or an arena where girls can outdo boys. I just love horses and always have.
When I sat on a horse for the first time, at the age of three, I'd never been so high off the ground. Doc was a huge old plow horse, about forty hands high if my memory is correct. Being led around the barn yard on this fiery steed–magic. The blurry little black and white photo of the event has long since been lost but I'll never forget the moment.
For years after that, in my imagination I rode the range on cowponies attuned to my every need and desire, and in reality plodded around the fields and farm roads on bored plow horses. Note: plow horses are not receptive to learning to jump fences.
I read every book on horses that ever made it into print. Margaret Cabell Self, Lavinia Davis, and Walter Farley, Marguerite Henry's ponies of Chincoteague and Holling's Book of Cowboys fed my dreams.
I dreamed of my own horse. I lusted after my own horse. Eventually my parents gave in and supplied—not a horse, but riding lessons. Cool! I should have been devastated that the instructor did not feel I was the most talented rider ever to grace his class. It didn’t matter. I was riding!
Eventually we left the constraints of Chicago and moved WEST. New Mexico! Land not covered with houses! Mesas! Sagebrush! I still didn't get a horse, but I did get to ride. Plow horses were replaced by rental horses, borrowed horses, and yes, even a stuffed horse [just once, honest].
And then it happened. I was sixteen. I was employable. I got a job and they paid me real money. Real money that went into a savings account until there was enough to....BUY A HORSE!
I did it. I answered ads. I looked at teeth and pretended I knew what I saw. I test drove broken-down bays and aged chestnuts and a rough-gaited paint. Finally there was Lucky. It was love at first sight. For me. Ill-tempered, palomino, and in no way returning my adoration, Lucky soaked up my time and my allowance and I loved him. He reciprocated by not throwing me more than once a week. Mostly.
Lucky had a Mexican brand, so I decided he'd been a cowpony in his younger days. To live up to him, I would learn to rope. I bought a rope. I practiced. I roped the patio chairs. I roped the dog. I roped my mother. [Once.] Finally I was ready.
I saddled Lucky and headed for a field with a long, straight line of fence. Lucky sighed and loped along. I shook out a loop. I twirled. I aimed. I fired. And watched with satisfaction as the loop settled over the wily fence post.
True to his training, Lucky slammed on the brakes. I didn't. When the stars cleared, I looked up at my dear, devoted horse and my dream had come true. After years of yearning for magical, two-minds-in-tune communication, I knew exactly what he was thinking: disgust. Absolute, utter disgust.
Oh well. One must accept reality. My reality today is borrowed horses and writing about horses. . This is The General, whose owner is amused by the Jen & Gen thing and is always willing to lend her when I need a horse fix.
All those years of loving horses and reading and dreaming about them have proved to be far more useful than my puzzled parents could ever have imagined.
Only one horse in Loving Luke stands out as a character, but he sprang from those golden days with Lucky.
I guess some girls never grow up. I still love horses.
Jenny's website is www.jennysfiction.com, and people can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She loves to correspond with readers! Her book, Loving Luke, is available from The Wild Rose Press.