I believe my love for horses began while I was still in the womb. There has not been a moment in this lifetime where I can recall not ever being drawn to this most magnificent animal. I was raised on a farm where we had every type of animal…except a horse. And then one day, late in the month of February, my parents took me to a farm that sold horses and we chose my horse! She cost $375 and that included the western saddle, bridle, halter and delivery. That was a pretty good deal, but it was still a lot of money for my parents to pay. I think I had saved close to $100 to help with the cost. The year was 1971 and I was the happiest nine year old in the entire world! My very own horse would be delivered to our farm within the week.
On March 1st she arrived. Her name was Polly and she was 9 years old, amazingly so…the same age as me. We were meant to be! She was a standard bay, 14.2h and she had a big star in the center of her forehead. She was absolutely beautiful. My very first ride was to be nothing I had ever experienced before. One of my friends had a pony which I had ridden quite a bit so I was in my view, kind of experienced…for a nine year old that is. So I tack up my new horse and lead her out of the barn. My grandfather and my parents are both there to help me and keep watch. I climb into the saddle and give Polly a little squeeze to walk forward. It is March and there are still some spots of snow on the ground. She heads for the nearest patch of snow and down she goes to have a big roll….saddle and Jolene and all! My first lesson that day was how to quickly climb off and scramble away from the body of a rolling horse. My second lesson was to let my horse out for a romp and a roll before tacking up to ride. My grandfather and my parents just stood there and laughed…once they knew I was fine and that Polly just needed a roll.
That was the beginning of a very deep connection between a girl and her horse that was to last over 23 years. She lived to be 32 and I was with her until her last breath. Looking back, I realize how much she played the role of the teacher and the protector. She was my alpha-mare and she kept me safe. I am honored and humbled to have had her in my life. Thank you Polly Parker. 🙂