Horses are synonymous with freedom. That I learned to ride shotgun, holding on to my sister’s waist when she would allow it, or the saddle, which she preferred, is one of my greatest childhood accomplishments. The smell of sweat and hay, the feel of horse lips against the palm of my hand, the kinship of a thousand pound beast resting it’s cheek against your own: these are organic pleasures. Of course, it’s easy to romanticize a childhood love of these animals. I have other memories too, like the time 35 years ago, when two of us – a beloved horse and myself – could have died. But why did these images triggered a nostalgic walk down a horse-drawn path?
Louis Vuitton’s fall collection of vintage inspired clothes, pretty and feminine ala a bygone era, brought a flood of happy memories to me too, and hopefully to others still attached to a horse-loving childhood. Give me boots and a saddle and a horse; that’s all the encouragement I need to strap myself onto the back of a big Bay and race against the wind.
He almost died: I learned the mechanics as a child, the younger sister of two accomplished riders who tolerated my exuberance and lack of panache. The real saint was Dondi, a gelded quaterhorse with a lion heart. His haunches were unbelievably strong, his mouth so sensitive to instruction that we never used a bit.
One day, when I was barely five, I sat atop his back sans saddle. And then, he stopped, and I nudged him along with my short legs, but he refused to move, letting out a strange and wretched heave. His front legs gave way, but slowly, and I fell against his neck and grabbed onto his mane, confused by a trick I had not manuevered in the least.
Then this trophy earning and ribbon bearing stead collapsed, his hindquaters folded up beneath his belly. Like a camel he lay in the middle of the arena, as the adults came running. A horse that is about to roll over will squish anything in its way, and I was just a wee little thing.
They needn’t have worried. I slid down his side, and stood back, probably confused and teary eyed. What had I done, I remember thinking. Before anyone reached us, Dondi had fallen to his side; he sensed that I had climbed down, I am sure of it, before succumbing to his agony.
A serious case of equine colic showed me the intelligent beauty behind the beast, and the true gift of interspecies friendship. Of course, every person who’s ever fallen in love with horses can tell you their own tale, or tail, of why and when the affair first started.
As Australian poet Pam Brown put it, “A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – and it has the capability of giving us escape.”
When style shots like this, we can almost forgive the silly looking pony tail, the impractical mittens, and the price tag of LV’s haute couture. Instead, find yourself awash in childhood dreams of riding bareback, the strength of one horsepower and a lifetime of dreams beneath your legs.
Dedicated to my horse loving sisters: KT and SB, and to Dondi, RIP.
Tinamarie is an acclaimed writer for several websites. You can find her at twitter and Facebook, or send her a private message at modernlovemuse @ yahoo dot com. ©2010-2011 Tinamarie Bernard; PARTIAL reposts only permitted with link back to original article.