I don't remember not loving horses. I think I inherited that love from my Mother. She was a talented and accomplished horsewoman. It was a man named Mr. Call that cultivated it though. It was Mr. Call that put me on my first horse.
I remember that day as if it was yesterday.
Mr. Call had led a horse up to the house. I was under the age of 5 and to me that horse was the tallest, most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Mr. Call called my name to come over to him and the big horse. I was frozen but my father put his hand on my back and gave me a little shove. This was the first of many times that my Father would do this throughout my life.....literally and figuratively. The horse didn't have a saddle on, he was wearing only a halter and lead rope. Mr. Call swiftly hoisted me up and onto the horse's back. I will never forget the softness of his coat and how warm his body felt between my legs. Mr. Call pushed my little body high up on the horse's withers and instructed me to hold on to the mane with one hand only. He then grabbed my thighs and told me my thighs and my hand was what I was to use to stay on. "Don't touch him with your other hand or your feet", he instructed. I cautiously looked at my Father, he gave me a nod and a wink. With my Father's approval I was ready. Mr. Call began by slowly leading the horse all around the yard. I was in heaven. Because I was bareback I could feel every step, and it wasn't long before I felt as though the horse and I were in complete sync. I honestly felt like we were one, moving in unison. I was happy and comfortable high up on the horse. I began to relax more and more. It was that day that I learned the view of the world is completely different when atop a horse. I was in my own world up there. "Pay attention! Never let your guard down Sandy!", I heard Mr. Call say. At that moment he made a clicking sound with his mouth and the horse took off in a trot. My little body began bouncing wildly on the horse's back and I grabbed the mane with my free hand. I was scared that I was going to fall off. I yelled to Mr. Call to stop. "I told you how to hang on, now do it!" he said. I pleadingly looked to my Father to rescue me, he simply smiled. Mr. Call wouldn't stop the horse and my Father was not going to help me. I remembered what Mr. Call had told me about holding on, I let go of the mane with my second hand and began to grip with my thighs. Before I knew it I was once again one with the horse. No sooner had I become comfortable at a trot than Mr. Call stopped the horse, grabbed me and swung me to the ground. He looked at my father and said, "She's a natural". I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I was happy and that began the first of many days I would spend with Mr. Call learning and soaking all the information in that I could.
Mr. Call passed before I was 10, but I often think of him when I mount a horse. I may have inherited my love of horses from my Mom, but it was him that taught me what they now call "Natural Horsemanship". At that time, it was just called learning how to ride.
My Father with Cookie Bars (circa 1980)
My Mom & I getting ready to ride on the beach in Mexico. She had always wanted to ride a horse on the beach and finally was able to do so. The guide even let us break from the group and gallop down the beach, just her and I. A memory I will never forget. (circa 1984 or so)