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Horse Woman

Horse Woman

Notes on Living Well & Riding Better
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

Where did this journey start?

While I always loved horses, or more rightly the idea of horses, I was sent to the hospital after a hard fall from a pony at the age of four. I still have the scar on my chin, a reminder that the love and courage possessed by young children is precious. Difficult to replace, this invincible spirit needs to be kept safe.

At the time that I was starting school, I kept Walter Farley’s beloved book, Little Black, A Pony, at my bedside. In an unusual twist, the small pony was the hero of the story, doing something that Big Red, the beautiful horse, could not. Afraid to ride but still wanting to, I fell hard in love with Little Black.

When I was six, I went with my father to an auction sale held just outside of town. The barn was well-known to me, a place where shadowy men did horse deals by the lights of their pickup trucks. Arguments were solved with the brandishing of knives and the local police were often there, asking questions. Still, this a place where I somehow felt at home.

The day of the auction was very cold. Frozen sap of the jack-pines cracked like gunshots. I had a fur-trimmed hood on my parka and wore new sealskin boots. I remember this because my clothing, along with my small stature, caused a great commotion among the assembled sale horses. Many of the local ranchers added to their winter income by chasing and capturing wild horses in the bush. Most of these had been run into the corrals only the day previously.

Few of the horses in the pole corrals, judging by their frosty snorts and restless movement, appeared to be broke. Except one. She was a black pony with such a hair coat that she appeared truly round. She had four white feet and these were festooned with balls of ice as she walked up to me and nuzzled, first my parka hood, then my fur boots. She picked me out before I picked her. It was love at first sight.

One of the old ranchers showed me that the black pony was broke because when he pulled on her forelock, she gave with her head and led right alongside him. I tried it myself and excitedly called to my father.

“Dad, the black pony!” I kept suggesting but my father was not one to brook childish interruptions.
He was talking business amid much loud laughter. My dreams for the pony didn’t stand a chance. Watching the auction through the bars of the corrals, I stood silently while the pony entered the ring and was sold. I knew that my father had not even put in a bid.

I was spending a rare good day in the cold, with these men and horses. I tried to be happy. The day passed and the men, one by one, left to start their trucks and head home. As Dad and I were leaving, we were approached by one of my father’s old friends. Quietly, with a wink for me and a handshake for my father, he handed us a bill of sale written out on the back of a Christmas card.

“Sold for full value received, one black Shetland mare with four white feet. Signed, Hank Rudosky.” I have the ‘document’ still. With that, my father wrote out a cheque in the amount of $27.50 for the pony that would change my life. We named her Flicka, after the Mary O’Hara story. She carried me safely for hundreds of miles through the Cariboo bush. When it comes to understanding my lifelong love of horses, this honest, black pony is the one I must thank.

I know this now. I was born to ride, I was born to write.

As a girl, even when I was in trouble, the voice inside me was rising above, turning it into a story. The worse things got, the more worthwhile my suffering because it would make for a better read. But don’t get me wrong. I did not grow up in a life of hardship. My days were filled with all the senses of a budding, lifelong love affair with horses. Like so many of you, they were somehow a part of who I was.

First, though, a word of warning. This is not a manual on horsemanship, philosophy or the state of the world. This is one year, made up of many, in the life of a woman who eats too much, rarely darkens the church or gym door, sweeps her crumbs under the rug, lies about flossing and beds down with any one of her husband, cat or dog. She collects old clocks and horses, working well and otherwise.

Many of these photographs and stories come from keeping a riding journal for over forty-five years. They reflect a life spent among horses. Since age eight, I have ridden and observed during the day, then at night, I’ve written it all down. The pictures have been generously shared by friends… or pulled from the far reaches of my sock drawer… or the boxes under the stairs… or even the door of the fridge. I hope they sit well with you.

I urge you to make this book your own! Mark it up, fold back the important corners, add your own doodles and notes. Let Horse Woman become a journal of your own time in the saddle. If you have questions or are ripe for a debate, I invite you to become a Keystoner — a Keystone Equine Facebook follower — and send me a message there. Join in on the comments and discussion that are a hallmark of our online group. Your voice matters and you will be welcomed.

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Becoming Centaur

Becoming Centaur

Eighteenth-Century Masculinity and English Horsemanship
edition:Paperback
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The Big Book of Miniature Horses

The Big Book of Miniature Horses

Everything You Need to Know to Buy, Care for, Train, Show, Breed, and Enjoy a Miniature Horse of Your Own
edition:Paperback
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Circle of Trust

Reflections on the Essence of Horses and Horsemanship
edition:Hardcover
tagged : equestrian
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Legendary Show Jumpers

Legendary Show Jumpers

The Incredible Stories of Great Canadian Horses
edition:Paperback
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Stolen Horses

Stolen Horses

Intriguing Tales of Rustling and Rescues
edition:Paperback
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The Heart of a Horse

The Heart of a Horse

Poignant Tales and Humorous Escapades
edition:Paperback
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