I've been thinking about my first horse experience. I think some of the successes and failures I've had recently have caused me to reflect. It's been a long journey.
When I was about 15 years old, I got the horse bug. I don't remember exactly how or why it started, but it was a raging fever when I did contract the disease. I'd been exposed to horses in one form or another all my life. When I was a kid, my Grandpa Chuy, would rent and sometimes own, various Shetland ponies for me and the other grand-kids to ride. I've got a picture of me with him on top of one of his quarter horses when I was still in diapers. He always had horses, and over the years, I've heard stories about his horse training abilities and exploits. I can't speak first hand about any of this, because he died when I was 9 years old.
But I do remember one Shetland Pony, Milky Way. And I remember being led on him one Easter when I was about 7, with my uncle leading, and Milky Way started bucking. I wasn't afraid and I was staying on fine, but my Uncle Frank was yelling "jump off, jump off!" so I did. I dusted myself off and that was that. I don't remember crying or being more than mildly upset. The adults inspected the saddle and concluded he has a sticker under the saddle that had caused him to buck. With the insight I have today, I doubt that. I think he was just a pastured pony who didn't get much work until we were around and he was showing a little barn sour behavior when he was being led away from his herd. But the explanation was more than adequate for all the grand-kids, and of course, after that we were hyper-vigilant about asking about stickers before ever getting on him again.
I continued to ride horses off and on during my adolescence, and always enjoyed it. So sometime around age 15, I started to hit my mother up for a horse. I knew nothing about horses, other than that I liked to ride them. My father was a city slicker, so he was of no help. But I pestered my mother until she started to ask around. A guy my mother knew told her about a horse that was for sale. It was a 7 year old gelding, registered quarter horse named "Tuffy Danger". He was being sold by a woman that just didn't have the time to ride him. Was I interested?
I told my mother "yes" and we headed down to South Texas to view the horse at a friend's place. I jumped on the horse and rode with the daughter of the man's ranch we were visiting. I had no fear at that age, and I was happy to walk, trot, canter: anything the horse wanted to do. I did notice that he seemed to ride sideways some times, but I didn't know what that meant and didn't care. He was a horse and he could be mine. We bought him on the spot for $750 dollars, not a small sum for a horse in circa 1985. I don't remember how we got him home, but before I knew it, he was being stabled at a place about 5 miles from my house in Corpus Christi, TX, and I had been outfitted with a new saddle, tack, and spurs. I was a horse owner.
I was living the dream...What could go wrong?