By Jesse R. Bussard
Horses have always been constant in my life. As a little girl, “I want a horse” was always my answer when being asked what I wanted for Christmas, my birthday, or some other holiday. I definitely qualified as one of those horse-crazy girls. I lived, breathed, and slept HORSES.
At about 8 years old I finally got my wish, when my dad surprised me with my very first horse of my own when we were at my Grandma’s house for Christmas dinner. I had no idea I would be getting a horse and the sight of my dad riding up over the hill to my grandmother’s house astride a tall bay mare gave me feelings of sheer excitement and joy. I’ll never forget that day. It stands out as one of the most important memories I have of my childhood.
Whether my father knows it or not, that day was one of the defining moments that set me on the path I’d take in life. From that day on all other interests I had took a back seat to my horse addiction. I read about horses, I drew horses, and I made it my mission to learn as much as I possibly could about these four-legged creatures.
My early years of riding were spent traversing the Appalachian Mountains of central Pennsylvania and the many trails through the state forests and parks in the area. During my sixth grade year, I met my lifelong best friend, Melissa Coleman, who at the time was an active competitor in competitive trail and endurance riding with her grandmother. That exposure to competitive equine events spurred me to pursue an interest in showing horses. So at the age of 13 I joined 4H. While most moms were hauling their kids to soccer and band practice, my mother was busy hitching up the horse trailer and taking me to shows.
Since high school and even into college, my horses were always there for me. Like many people, I’ve had my fair share of hard times and challenges in life. Having horses in my life helped me through that. Next to God and family, my horses were part of the glue that kept me from falling to pieces when times were at their worst.
You may be wondering why I’m telling you all this. The point I’m trying to make here is that we all need something in our lives to teach us responsibility, to give us joy, and make us happy when times are tough. For some of us, horses are that something.
So if you’re thinking about taking your children to riding lessons or getting them a pony, DO IT! Maybe you yourself want to have a closer relationship with one of these amazing four-legged creatures. I say DO IT! It may be one of the best things you could ever do for yourself and your children. Or, just maybe, it’ll be one of those defining moments in you or your child’s life that sets you in a completely different direction. So what are you waiting for? Mount up and ride!
Below are some photos of me from my horse-crazy adventures over the years!