Friday, September 19, 2008

Milestones for horse lovers: First blackened toenail

The big family vacation of my youth was an annual summer trek to the Shakamak State Park in Jasonville, Indiana. My sister and I loved Shakamak, mostly because it offered trail rides. The collage to the right is actually from the park Web site (they still rent out horses!). Shakamak was probably my first time on a horse, at about 7 or 8 years old. A horse-crazy kid from the heart of the suburbs -- you can't imagine how exciting it was!

But as Tom Waits says, "Life's so different than it is in your dreams." My horse stepped on my foot within moments of my grabbing the reins. I knew my foot was a mess, but I kept my mouth shut and we went on the trail ride. After the ride I wasn't walking too well, and my parents made me take off my shoes. My toenail was split and the toe looked squished. Mom put the kibash on our plans for more outdoor fun -- we cut our vacation short. My sister and I were devastated. I remember begging and sobbing in the back of our 1969 VW van while my parents stared grimly ahead in the front seats. Poor Leslie, it was not going to be the last time her little sister wrecked her fun.

Anyway, that was my first blackened toenail -- it's still split, by the way. It wasn't the most auspicious beginning to my riding career, but it was the first of many milestones. Shall I tell you more? My first foxhunt? First riding lesson? First horse show humiliation? The first championship ribbon? The best riding clinic ever?

What milestones do you recall?


  1. I love that Appy in the pictures there.

    I have a first for you---

    I always used to scoff at those riders who had silly mishaps- like using a plastic lawn chair or stool to mount their horse with, and having it break underneath them....

    Well, this Spring I was going to ride the Little Mare that was boarding with us. Since it has been several years since I rode on a regular basis, and I am WAY out of shape (still... ahem), I decided to use the plastic stool to crawl up on the mare. Darn good thing she is unflappable, as that darn stool went CRACK! and next thing I knew, I was on the ground.

    Of course, the FIRST part to this story... I had alreay used the stool once moments before, to try and mount the mare... and propelled myself a bit too hard... and missed the horse and landed right on the other side on the ground.

    Geesh... I need to get back in riding shape here!

  2. Tell us more firsts! My Mom finally decided to hunt serious lessons for me after my witnessing my "first jump." After poring over all those horse picture books with photos mainly made in Britain, I decided to jump my 13.5-hand very ugly Appaloosa over the picnic table benches in our back yard. Yee ha!! I then turned them upside down and placed a wooden fence pole across the x legs to make cavaletti.

  3. Do tell! Let's here about 'em all.

  4. I just like hearing about the bad stuff.... sorry, it's just funnier!
    The first time I got my foot stepped on was when I was little, about six or so, and I got stepped on by the oldest, biggest lesson horse in the barn: an elderly TWH named Skippy. It was so cold (winter) that it was pretty much numb until I got into the car and started crying. xD I've only had my foot stepped on a few times, and unlike some I've wittnessed, I don't freak out and scream, just get mad that the horse was careless/disrespectful enough to do that and push 'im over. O.O

  5. Remember that line from Steel Magnolias -- "if you can't say something nice come sit by me" ?

    Kaye, you're my kinda' reader!

  6. hi my name is katyn bierman and i am 12 years old and i was wondering about the picture in the middle being ridden it greatly resembles my pony that i have now i was wondering how old that picture was because i have had my pony for about 7 years and i was wondering if that could be him beacause the people that gave him to us didnt tell us where he came from so i was just wondering if u knew anything about him is you know anything please respond

  7. Hi Katyn, the picture is from the Shackamack State Park Web site -- in Indiana. Does that help?


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