Dear Horse Crazy Kiddo,
When I was your age, I too was horse crazy. My persnickety mare and I were the same age and she was my best friend. I cried in her mane more times than I could count. She knew all my secrets, fears, goals and dreams. She and I won a whole wall full of ribbons. At the ripe old age of 13, she was my world.
When my parents divorced and my dad refused to let my mare stay on the ranch, I had to sell her. My hands shook as I wrote out that bill of sale to a man whom I thought was going to give my best friend a leisurely life toting around grandkids. When his check bounced my girl was gone and I would never find out what became of her. To this day that haunts me.
And now here we are. I am no longer 13, but you my beautiful daughter are. You are the same horse crazy kid I once was. You have a beautiful mare that has become your dearest friend and confidant. She, like Missy, takes amazing care of you and is willing to do things out of her comfort zone simply because you are asking her to.
It is time that I get to the point of this letter. At your age, due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to say goodbye to horses all together. It was more than 20 years before I was able to have a horse to call my own. I don’t want that to happen to you.
Sadly, you were not born into a wealthy family. We struggle for everything we have and it isn’t much. Horses put a huge strain on our finances as well as our personal lives. You know; you’ve see us struggle to keep this dream alive.
There are a few things I want you to know:
1. I see you. I see you working your fanny off to pay for your training. I see you pushing yourself to be a better rider. I see you growing as a horse woman. I see the kids out there who don’t have to work for their keep. I see the kids in the show ring with show clothes covered in Swvarsky crystals, on horses who have been groomed by hired hands while you are responsible for grooming your own horse and wear a borrowed show shirt. I see it.
2. I understand. I understand that you wish this wasn’t so much work. After all, you see kids who do nothing with their horses and walk into the show ring and clean up. I understand there are days that you might think this is more work than it is worth. I understand you might wish you were among the lucky few who get a new saddle because it doesn’t shine like it once did, while you are riding in a borrowed saddle. I understand, and a big part of me wishes it were different.
3. I am sorry. I am sorry this horse thing is so expensive and we cannot make it happen without considerable sacrifices made by every member of our family (including your very resentful father). I am sorry you have to work in exchange for your training. I am sorry that “your horse” is actually a leased horse and not really yours. I am sorry that you don’t ride into the ring covered in crystals on a world champion mount. I am sorry that you are having to work so hard at such a young age. But, mostly, I am sorry that you have to watch us struggle so much to make sure the horses get to stick around.
4. I’m not sorry. I am not sorry that I haven’t just given you everything you ever wanted. I have seen those children, the ones who were mad that the won an “ugly trophy” when they “already have so many”. I have seen the kids who exit the show ring placing below where they’d hoped and jump off their horse while screaming at mom about how horrible their horse was while throwing her the reins so Little Miss Entitled can stomp off because she didn’t win. (I’d like to add a side note here: the first time that happens will be the last time I take you to a show—just so we are crystal clear.)
I am not sorry that you are learning from an early age that you have to work for what you want. I am not sorry that you are having to work for your training. You have an amazing trainer and she has taught you more about horsemanship, care, grooming and responsibility than Little Miss Entitled will ever know. I am not sorry that you are in the ring in borrowed clothes and borrowed tack on a borrowed horse; I know that when you get your own they will be very special to you and you will take great care of them. And mostly, I am not sorry for any of the struggles you have had along the way. These struggles are what will make you a strong and independent woman. These experiences you have now will stay with you a lifetime and I am not a bit sorry for the sacrifices we have made as a family to ensure that you can follow your dreams.
In closing, my sweet girl, keep plugging along. I will continue to remind your dad that horses keep you away from boys. Please do me a favor and always love them more than boys; the right boy will understand that he will always play second fiddle to your equine love, and your dad won’t complain so much about the expense! Keep following your dreams and your dad and I will make sure that the path is always visible.
Good luck at the show! We will be there to cheer you on!
Your Broke Mom
About the Author
Patti Marcotte is a wife, mother and Real Estate agent who grew up on a ranch in Wyoming. After a 20+ year hiatus from horses, she is the proud owner of two beautiful Appaloosas trying desperately to regain her childhood horse savvy. She enjoys sharing her misadventures through her lighthearted blog, The Humorous Homesteader.