There’ve been so many times in my life when I’ve been accused of being pushy or aggressive or loud or wild —I prefer the term “ambitious” or “fearless.” I guess it’s hard to see yourself the way others do, but I definitely know a lot of women who are like me in this way. Some are born that way, some are made. Don’t know which I am, maybe a little of both.
But in the times I’ve reflected on this phenomenon, I think about my upbringing and I’ve come to a conclusion about why I’m the way I am. Yes, my parents, of course! But, aside from that, one of the largest guiding influences as a kid was my horses. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out because I discussed this with a friend of mine who also grew up around horses—and she’s the type you NEVER have to ask her opinion, she’ll just tell you.
Anyway, I’ve always been horse crazy. Lucky for me I grew up where I did. I think horses are romanticized a lot, and people who’ve never spent loads of time around them tend to think they’re these sweet, timid creatures, but also gorgeous and powerful and mysterious. Well, they can be that. They can also be holy terrors! And since I spent so much time around every variety of horse—paint, bay, palomino, roan, ugly, pretty, barn sour, temperamental, well-behaved—I learned quickly every horse is different. They can be loveable, or, when your back is turned, kick you or push you against a fence with their big butts. They’ll crow-hop, shy from the slightest sound, try to roll in a river with you on their back (ask Lorinda about that one), try to race to the barn, balk…you have to be ready for any possibility and adventure!
Oops got off subject there…back to my point about how I came to be who I am. When you spend decades around equine, you become confident and cautious at the same time —both mentally and physically. You have to be fearless and forceful to push around an animal that weighs 1,100 or 1,200 pounds, but be mindful of how you push. You have to be quick, think on your feet, be ready for anything. But the effect that had on me was that I’ve never held anything back, if I want something, I go for it. They taught me confidence.
A couple of the first horses I ever rode, oh my gosh, such memories. Sugar Foot—a dun—and Rocky—a bay—two old plugs who really took care of my sister and me—more than we ever could’ve taken care of them at such a young age! They were so gentle, so quiet. They taught me patience.
Then there was my sorrel Ten, who was the first horse I rode with any power. He was a little wild and hyper. He really honed my riding skills, challenged me, scared me, exhilarated me. He taught me fearlessness.
Then there’s Tex, a line-back dun. He’s been my main man for 20 years. He was even in my wedding! We’re two of a kind: both stubborn and strong-willed. I ride him like no other. He’s a free spirit, like me. He soothes my soul, brushes away my anxiety like nobody and nothing else can. When I’m bareback on him, tearing across the pasture at 90 miles an hour, wind in my hair, I don’t have a care in the world. He taught me about love and about peace and freedom. He is my heart.
So, when I’m accused of being loud and proud, I smile. I walk proud because it’s a reminder of who I am, where I’ve been, and that long line of horses who made me the woman I am. Being any other way would mean turning my back on my upbringing, my deep love of horses and ranch life and my family.
And those who know me know I could never do that! I have always been proud of the lifestyle I was fortunate to be born into!