Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gaga over horses -- when did it all begin?

My pretty pony, circa 1965
When I try to examine why I'm so gaga about horses, I look back to my childhood to remember when this obsession started.  Being a librarian, is it any surprise that it started with books? My earliest memory related to horses was a Golden Book called  The Colt in the China Shop.  It was a variation on the theme of the bull in the china shop but with appealing pictures of a young colt.

Oh how I loved that book.

It was hardly the kind of book that you keep -- cardboardy and cheap, and I can't find references to it online anywhere. Another book I adored was  Whatever happens to baby horses? -- also a Golden book. I still own this book, and what awesome illustrations! The premise is that you see pix of  a fuzzy, cute foal, and then a picture the horse all grown up and doing a job like pulling a plow, doing police work, working with cattle, or jumping.  Great for kids.

This may have started my childhood obsession with palaminos -- or it may have been Marguerite Henry...

Golden Books generally rock it with horse-themed books, and I think the pictures are just wonderful. Black Beauty was another one of my favorites, which I've blogged about. Check out the link to see the cover of the book -- doesn't BB just glow?

So what are your first memories of loving horses? What do you think inspired your obsession?


  1. We had "Whatever happens to baby horses." I recognize the cover. It must have been one of the first for us, too.

    All kinds of books fed our love--since we had no real contact with horses until we were teens. Could the reason I love Morgans be due to Marguerite Henry? Somehow, I think so...

    And don't forget the breyers--still have them. Some toys you can't ever give up.

  2. From the time anyone can remember I wanted a horse, and would shriek for the car to stop if I saw one in a pasture. I played 'horse' as a girl - pretended I WAS a horse, pretended the neighborhood dogs were horses (we didn't try to ride them, but did corral them around and did "groundwork" with them!) - as I got older I read books about horses and began to study everything I could find about horse management, even before I started riding or had a horse of my own to manage.

    My daughter has done the exact same thing. She still at age 14 canters around the house. When she was little she would set up dressage arenas and jump courses and her play was being a horse. She developed a mean buck and kick that always made me laugh to see.

    I think some folks, especially girls, just come out of the womb with horse fever that never goes away.

  3. My obsession started when my kindergarten or first grade class went on a tour of the calvary stables at the Ft Hood, TX military base. I was an army brat so it wasn't until my dad finally retired and we were stationary for a while that I was able to start seriously riding :)

  4. I was a horse-kid-without-a-horse since my days loving Roy Rogers. (Oh, that golden Trigger!) And I was the typical reader who wanted to be a horse. In the playground I pretended to be a wild horse, sometimes limping because of some "injury" fighting off cowboys or mountain lions. I did this so much my teacher thought I had a disability. I memorized Black Beauty, all the Walter Farley books, Spurs for Suzanna, and lots of info books like Heads Up, Heels Down. The other kids called me "Fury", the name of a then cuurent horse-themed TV show. I had to wait until I was 62 to begin to ride, and now (turning 66 Saturday) I have my beloved Champagne, in many ways the horse of my dreams.

  5. My next door neighbor was two years older and SO COOL. She rode, so I watned to. I started at 6 at a summer camp.
    The first day we got there to ride and all the horses were tied up. One was pulling back, pawing, and showing his general impatience and desire to work. Or so my 6 year old self believed. Everyone else was terrified of him, so of course I volunteeered to ride him. And fell in love.
    He was a palomino, and the source of my childhood palomino obsession! Also a good hint that I'd always be the one who loved the horses other people thought were crazy... including my current horse and my last horse (who was a palomino.)
    My book collection started after I started riding. Every month we'd head down to a big used bookstore and buy every horse and baseball book we could find!

  6. Billie's got it right: I must have come out of the womb loving horses, because I seriously can NOT remember ever being any other way. In one way this isn't surprising, since my mom likes them very much and had one as a kid. But she's certainly not horse-obsessed and has never ridden at all, other than the occasional trail rental, since childhood. On my dad's side of the family, however, there is no one. Zip, zilch. So thanks, Mom! :-)

    She also gets the credit for plonking me on a pony at about age 2. You can read about it here, in fact:
    That definitely sealed the deal for this equestrian!

    And yes, I have a fabulous horse book collection and never tire of re-reading them, except for the ones that still wring my heart out (King of the Wind, Black Gold, BB, a couple others) so much I can hardly stand to pick them up. I also was one who pretended I was a horse on the playground and I still to this day prefer to canter (on the correct lead, of course!) instead of run! I have wondered what coworkers think sometimes when I'm late to work and come trucking across the parking lot...

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  8. I had a book called Album of Horses, with fabulous illustrations by Wesley Dennis. I found a new version of it when I started homeschooling, just because I had to have one. Still beautiful to me and I think I love it more than any of my girls ever did.

  9. I had "Whatever happens to baby horses" as well! I can't pinpoint the start of it all but my parents knew it was serious when I clambered into a Clydesdale's stall at the county fairgrounds when I was a preschooler!

  10. I have blogged about this, too.

    The Black Stallion movie and later the book. I was three when I saw The Black on the big screen. Hooked for life. I still cannot believe that I did not end up with a black Arabian!

  11. Most of my riding friends that I know have someone in their family that rode, so I feel like the odd one out when it comes to horses. Most of the have their own horse or looking for their own and I'm stuck with only being able to take lessons. I'm the only one in my family that's ever seriously ridden. My grandfather and dad like to take occasional trail rides and watch the races, but that's as far as it gets. So I'm stuck trying to ride in a family that's not entirely supportive of it. But I digress. My habit started probably when I was about a year, year and a half old. We lived less than a mile from a stable that rented out ponies and parents would take me down there and rent a pony for about an hour on occassion. This happened more frequently when my mom went back to school and I wasn't able to see her as much during the week so we went to the stables nearly every weekend so I could spend some time with her. We moved across town several years later, not anywhere near one of the two stables in town that took people on trail rides. I missed it a ton so my parents started me in actual riding lessons when I was in first grade. And here I am, a college freshman, still cramming time in my week to ride at least once because I'll go insane without it.

  12. For me, a fellow librarian, it was the the Album of Horses by Marguerite Henry. I read it over and over and spent hours trying to draw those beautiful horses.

  13. I discovered the Blaze books (by C.W. Anderson) as soon as I could read. Blaze and the Mountain Lion, Blaze and the Rumbleseat Pony--I read them all. I also played horse. I used to tie up my wagon and my tricycle like they were horses.

  14. My horse obsession started when I was in 3rd grade and a family moved into my neighborhood that had horses and a girl my age. From that moment on I couldn't get enough. I read every book I could get my hands on, I put saddles & bridles (a jump rope & boat cushion) on my bike, I dreamed of ways to convert my parent's garden cart into a pony cart. After 2 years of obsession I finally got a pony of my own. Interestingly within the past year I have re-connected with this friend through Facebook. I saw that her mother and I had a mutual acquaintance with the people I bought my horse from. 2 weekends ago I went on a 16 mile trail ride with this girl & her husband. Life comes full circle sometimes!

  15. I'm wondering if your memory is fooling with you and "The Colt in the China Shop" could have been named something slightly different. I buy lots of strange old children's books online, and it seems to me that if I can find a little Golden Book entirely devoted to Liddle Kiddles, all the little Goldens should be available somewhere. Not one single hit on that title. Could you be mistaken?

    My big favorites were C.W. Anderson books. I also loved a book called "Alexander's Horses," which was an adventure tale about one of Alexander the Great's grooms.

  16. I didn't remember that book until I saw the other 2 illustration. This must be one of the 1st books re: horses I remember!! From there it was Billy & Blaze, the Black Pony, Black Stallion, Black Beauty, etc. I can't remember a time when I didn't love horses and reading about them. But I've never owned one (insert violin music here, lol). I'm still waiting to see if my kids inherited the horse gene but I'm not holding my breathe. They'll read my collection of horsey books but not with the same all encompassing intensity as I did. I just gave my Breyers to my kids to play with. My Breyer's cannot be considered collectable as I groomed them too much! Thanks for blogging about Whatever Happens to Baby Horses".

    K.M. Thomas

  17. Like so many others that commented, I can not remember a time that I did not love all things horses. All my Barbies ever did was ride my Breyer horses.

    My mom is from Kentucky and we used to go visit her relatives for a week every summer when I was a kid. I was so disappointed that none of them had horses.

    My fav book as a child was 'A Pony for the Winter'. It was about a girl who got to keep and care for a carnival pony during the off season. How cool would that have been?

    So glad I was able to pass my horse love and Breyers to my youngest daughter. Now we have a passion to share always.

  18. I have a vague memory of getting to take riding lessons when I was 3. When I was 8,my best friend's family bought a ranch, and that is where I got my start riding. However, once, when I was 8 and new in the saddle, a horse ran away w/ me on a cool fall day. The foreman came after me on his horse and grabbed the horse's reins because I was paralyzed and didn't know what to do. We never had formal lessons, just thrown on the back of a horse. I went on to become a pretty good rider through my teen years, but after that run away, I was never romantic about horses, had no desire to go galloping around the play ground like other little girls. But I did love horses and renewed that love, in a more educated way, in my 30's when I remarried. I'm still not overly romantic about horses, but I do love them terribly.

  19. Oh, also, I think it's a horse gene. My grandmother was a West TX cowgirl, and my mother rode also. Grand father started the first rodeo in his west TX community.

  20. Hi Allie, yes, I could be mistaken about the publisher and the title -- but not the concept, the colt was in china shop :-). Boy if you ever run across it...

  21. The first horse I fell in love with was Mr. Ed. I named all the horses on the merry go round at the local amusement park. I was a book addict as a kid, too. It started with the Billy and Blaze books. Then I read all the Marguerite Henry books, my favorites were Misty of Chincoteague and Stormy, Misty's Foal. I read every Black Stallion book written by the time I was a pre-teen. I think I memorized the Pony Club Manual. I adored all the books full of Thelwell cartoons. I watched westerns on TV, would beg to see any movie playing in theaters with horse subject matter and had an embarrassingly large collection of Breyer models as a kid.

    Obsession, thy name is Equus!


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