Visiting Equine Escape, a horse farm and equine therapy facility in Goodrich, brought back fond memories of my childhood growing up with horses in rural Maryland. We lived in a beautiful farmhouse that was built in the 1800s, located on 14 pristine acres of land surrounded by the Allegheny Mountains. There was an old barn on the property, a summer kitchen, chicken coop and a stream-fed pond in the back near the woods.
My first experience with horses was when my parents bought me and my siblings a black and white pony named Black Jack (he was a mean little devil). We loved that pony and would take turns riding him. We even liked grooming him and cleaning out his stall. When we outgrew Black Jack, we got our first horse, a gentle Palomino with huge brown eyes. Kokomo was the sweetest horse there could ever be, with the disposition required to put up with four boisterous kids learning how to ride.
Our horse family continued to expand until each of us had our own to ride. We joined a saddle club, took trail rides up and down the mountain, started competing in horse shows and rode our horses in the Fourth of July parades. My sister was the daredevil and competed in barrel racing and joust. I was the timid one and showed my horse in English Pleasure, proudly wearing my jodhpurs and leather boots. Our youngest brother, Christopher, had his own little pony named Rowdy, and he would trail along with us on our rides up the mountain.
We soon learned that caring for horses was A LOT of work. Every day, in every type of weather, we had to get up before school to feed and water the horses. We spent endless hours grooming them and cleaning out the stalls. We piled bales of hay in the hayloft and cleaned the tack. I remember the day of my high school prom; it was my turn to clean the stalls and I was sure my mother would let me off the hook for such a special occasion. I was wrong. I stomped out to the barn, steaming mad!
I remember the time my dad was riding his horse, Junior, a high-strung, purebred American Saddlebred. Something spooked Junior and he reared up, throwing my dad to the ground. He fell hard and broke his leg. After a very long recovery, Dad decided Junior was a bit too much for him and ironically, the surgeon who had repaired his broken leg bought the horse!
Visiting the horse farm in Goodrich brought back even more memories – sitting with my sister in the hayloft talking for hours and hours, going to the barn to get away from it all, just sitting with the horses and watching the gentle beauties graze and romp around in the field.
When a horse looks you in the eyes, it almost seems as if they can see right into your soul. There is something so special about these magnificent animals. Sharon Rolls Lemon sums it up best with these words: “The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and freedom.”