What is Your First Memory of a Horse?

What is your first memory of a horse?

  • What were your sensory impressions?
  • How did you react, initially?
  • What did you feel?


19 thoughts on “What is Your First Memory of a Horse?

  1. My first memory is of an anonymous Shetland pony. I was four years old, piled in the station wagon with my four siblings and my parents on a road trip. Somewhere along the route, we pulled over near a farm to get out and stretch (and to relive my parents of nonstop “are we there yet, are we there yet, are we there yet”)
    There was a fat shaggy pony in the field. Being short, I easily slipped under the fence, ran full force to Mr. Pony. There was some force of nature that compelled me to get to the pony – NOW! I had a been honing my horsemanship skills on a toy spring “wonder horse” for a year or so, but to be up close and personal with the real thing was heaven. Luckily, Mr. Pony was friendly (or too busy grazing to care) and he didn’t mind being hugged and kissed by a squealing toddler. I distinctly remember burying my face into his chest and falling in love. The smell, the feel of his shaggy mane and fuzzy coat, and his warm breath as he raised his head and snorted on my cheek was heaven. It was pure joy and love. I pleaded with my parents and Mr. Pony’s owner “please can I keep him”. Of course the answer was no, but the seed was planted.
    Fortunately my older sister was also horse crazy, and within a few years she was taking lessons and riding at a wonderful barn. I tagged along and when I was old enough, was allowed to take lessons – so it began. I rode my share of packers as kid, progressing up the ranks to more advanced school horses who threw me into fences at schooling shows. My sister bless her heart generously allowed me to ride her horse, and when she got busy being a wife and a Mom she gifted me my first horse. I have been blessed with many wonderful horses in my lifetime, none of which were ponies. Something in my universe shifted that day so long ago.

  2. Sometime between when we moved to LA when I was five, and when we moved into a “horse neighborhood” when I was ten, my family would go camping in one of those pop-up trailers. One year near Big Sur, I remember going on a ride on a big black horse named Nevada. I have no clue if we went around in circles or head-and-tailed it down a coastal trail, but I remember the horse, probably some sort of Quarter cross, and his name.
    When we moved at ten, the first thing my sister and I spied as we drove up our new street was the neighbors’ trampoline. The next thing I spotted , behind the trampoline, was a stunning sorrel named “California Joe” who became my friend and confidant for the next three years. I traded mucking for rides (my first job), which were of necessity bareback–no way his owner was going to let me use her good show saddle. But that didn’t matter to me! (Great way to learn balance!)
    I was hooked!

  3. I really was born this way. 🙂 I cannot remember a time when HORSE was the primary thought in my head.

    Y’all’s stories are a lot more fun to read, though! 🙂

    1. Shoot. I can NOT remember a time when HORSE was NOT the primary thought in my head … but y’all knew what I meant, right?

  4. I was about 3. She was my Great Uncle Harry’s old standardbred broodmare. I crawled under the fence and went up to her and started patting her legs. She was warm and shiny and dusty. She smelled me with big velvety nostrils and I smelled her and she smelled of all things right in the world. She just stood there while I stroked her belly as I passed under and then went to have a look at her tail, then circled ’round back to her head. She only moved when she could see me again. I found out much later this whole time my mum was freaking out, but was sensible enough to let Uncle Harry come to get me. That old mare would have wondered why she was freaking if she’d come over herself.

    I have a picture –

  5. My first memory of a horse was a baby Mexican Burro standing next to my high chair in our house. I have always loved horses (I just love animals). My aunt had a big old horse that I would ride when my mother would let me. I always asked for a horse and got everything but a horse. My parents took me for lessons when I was about 5 and the instructor said I was too young, much to my parent’s relief. I finally bought my first horse at 20. How I loved he. After his untimely death I bought an unbroken filly which I somehow managed to break, myself. Now, talk about miracles. Thank god for Western Horsemen Magazine and horse books. I have been without a horse since 1986 and I have not ridden since then. At 61 (almost) I still want to ride and one of these days I will find a riding stable and go riding. One of my friends still has horses and goes on long (3 to 4 hours) rides. How I envy her.

  6. I spent my earliest summers on my grandmother’s (we called her Honey) tobacco farm. Residents included two mules who had actually plowed at some point, pigs which were harvested regularly – the likely source of my vegetarianism + piglets (!) and chickens whose house I had the chore of cleaning. Then there was Comet the pony.

    I spent every minute I could trying to tempt the aloof pony over to the fence with handsfull of grass. This entailed reaching through barbed wire fencing decorated with tufts of Comet’s mane and tail, and often led to rusty scratches. The aged grey pony stallion played hard to get, but we became buddies. Horse lesson number one: bribing horses is a good strategy.

    After literally dreaming about flying around the pen on Comet, I finally hatched my big plan to brave the barbed wire and hop on. But it was not to be. Honey caught me halfway through the fence, hollering that she would “snatch me baldheaded” and to stay out of that pony pen because Comet might “jump on me”… I figured out much later that this warning had to do with Comet being intact. I also figured out that Comet’s elf feet meant he’d likely never seen a farrier and had probably foundered at some point.

    Sadly, I only rode Comet in my dreams, but incessant begging eventually led to riding lessons. Bless all those scruffy, grumpy, tough ponies that little girls fall in love with, learn to ride on and who teach so many important lessons.

  7. Interesting enough..I just always remember LOVING animals and horses being at the top of my list. Growing up in the city, when I would smell a barn smell, manure, etc I would get giddy b/c I knew horses MUST be close by. I think it was IN me from day 1, and no true reasoning as to why being no one in my family had horses, etc.
    There was always a strong tugging inside saying “I NEED A PONEEEEEE” 🙂

  8. Oh boy. I was little, elementary school probably 1st or 2nd grade. There were a couple of BIG (ok they might not have been that big, I was tiny) horses at a school fair. I begged my parents to let me “ride.” Once I was up there I just remember how high up it was and how FAST even the walk felt. I was terrified, but the kind of terrified that left me wanting to do it again!

    I’m still a bit of a chicken about speed. A fast canter makes me nervous. I love reading your galloping stories but can’t imagine doing it myself, a nice slow “ho hum” quarter horse is about exactly my speed. 😉

  9. We lived in Coronado (Calif.) when I was six, and went to see the 4th of July parade. I sat on the curb, and my mom was terrified that the horses would step on me. I admit, their feet seemed the size of frisbees. Golden Palominos decked in silver, with flags, ribbons, and sparkling riders.

  10. I’ve always wanted a horse. (It took 31 years before I finally owned one.) I remember asking Santa Claus for a Tiny Tears doll and a pony when I couldn’t have been more than 4….That would have been in 1955! One summer evening, when I was about six, my parents took my sister and me to a farm where they gave pony rides. For whatever the cost, you were supposed to get to ride around the ring three times. Well my parents got talking to the owner and lost count. I was in heaven because I got to ride that pony about 15 trips around the ring. The pony was a pinto, in retrospect probably a draft pony, and I was thrilled because he was “big,” much bigger than the pony my sister was riding. BTW, my mother said I would outgrow my love affair with horses. Not!

  11. I was 4 years old or thereabouts. Our parents took my brother, sister and I to Santa Land or somesuch place in the Adirondack Mts. I begged for a pony ride. And begged. And begged. I don’t even know if they really offered them but I saw two horses hitched (maybe from pulling a cart or sleigh) My father sweet talked and maybe even bribed the handlers into letting my sister and I ‘ride’. My sister was put on the front horse, and I was put on the one hitched behind it. I remember no saddle, my little legs sticking straight out. I had no reins but was told to hold onto the mane. A handler walked alongside each of the horses. While elated that I got to ride, I was also pissed. My 4 yr old brain said:
    “This is NOT riding. Who is this guy walking next to me? I have to follow my LITTLE sisters horse? No WAY!”
    My 4 year old brain knew one thing about riding: if you kick the horse, they go faster. I saw the Lone Ranger do that! So, when Handler wasn’t looking, I flailed my little legs in attempt to get a response. I got a ‘huh?’ from the horse, who lifted its head a fraction and twitched its ears in my direction. I did it again. ‘you sure?’-said horse. Bump bump went my tiny legs. ‘Well, OK’-sighed horse, and started marching with a little more purpose. Handler said ‘WHOA Bessy’ (or whatever the horse’s name was, that I do not recall)
    DARN! My plan was foiled! I fumed for the rest of my ride, while my younger sister chortled gleefully.
    Yes, in my brain I see this illustrated ala “Hyperbole and a Half”

  12. My early memories have been forever wiped out as a result of the traumatic brain injury I suffered when my horse tripped on a cross country course but I’m sure it was sweet since 40 years later, I still live to ride.

  13. Ah, good one. My first memory of a horse is very distinct and might actually be one of my first memories in general. There was a park by my house that had a little working farm/petting zoo attached to it (pigs, goats, chickens, etc.). I went up to a post and rail fence and a big farm horse reached his head down to me and blew warm breath in my face. He had a dark muzzle but must have been older (or maybe he was roan) because his face was speckled with white hairs. He had the sweet smell of his breakfast still on his lips, mixed with the smell of mud and fresh spring grass. He started playing with the zippers on my coat and my mother was nervously saying something behind me but I was completely enraptured. My tiny fingers were buried in the thick hair on his face, and then he lowered his gaze to meet mine. That was it. Those dark liquid chocolate eyes had me totally hooked. I was smitten. I started taking riding lessons a year later… And never looked back. I guess you could say that horses found me.

  14. My first memory is of my first horse love – a palomino named Twister.
    I was 6, and it was the second session of summer camp. I hadn’t been at this camp the first half of the summer, but insisted I go second session when I found out my brother had gotten to ride horses there. So much for our parents giving us separate experiences!
    The first riding day of the session there were horses tied to the fence, and all were standing quietly and unmoving except this yellow horse who kept pulling at the fence, digging, and weaving back and forth. Theoretically I know it was over 100 degrees and I was probably sneezing from dust, but it’s like all senses disappeared except my draw to this horse. He was as anxious to stop the standing around and get going as I was! Naturally, when they asked who wanted to ride him and everyone else backed away, I volunteered eagerly. It was as if my existence was pulled to this one horse, in some movie scene tunnel vision. For some reason no one else liked riding this horse, but I loved him – we got along great, and at the end of session competition, despite being one of the only kids on a horse instead of pony and being extremely small for my age, I was the only one in my age group whose horse wasn’t on a leadline. Apparently other people found the horse difficult, but I thought he was a snap to ride. I’d think it, and he’d do it! I’ve apparently always liked the sensitive horses. 🙂

    1. I don’t actually remember my first experience but it is family lore. When I was a year old my grandmother came from Ireland to stay for a few months. Every day she would take me out in the stroller for hours. Apparently in our travels we met an old horse and I was fascinated and so was he/she. Today being a horseperson I shudder but she used to take me through the fence to pat the horse and ride it (no owner in sight) and nothing would induce me to leave until I had had my fun and fed the horse. If the weather was bad I was inconsolable and everyone thought I missed going walking with my granny. She eventually let the cat out of the bag and my parents blame/bless her to this day for my obsession. The luck of the Irish was really with us as my Granny was from the city streets of Dublin and knew nothing of horses whatsoever. From my 2nd birthday on Iasked for a horse for all gift worthy occasions and when I turned 12 I finally got lessons followed by a horse at 15.
      Perhaps the Irish love of horses is genetic!

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