Long Ago, in a Land Far Far Away

I’ve been enjoying the responses to Ambermist’s July Challenge, There’s Something About You. I wasn’t going to respond because no matter how much I thought about it I couldn’t think of a thing. I’m pretty boring. My mother came over and she had a big, old, manilla folder full of pictures and clippings, pretty much the detritus of my past.

I started looking through it and found an old newspaper clipping. Azeroth is my passion at the moment and has been for about six years. But I looked at the clipping and remembered my first passion. Horses. From the time I was around eleven to the time I was twenty, they were my whole life. I knew I could not live without them.

In a land far away some track PR person thought a few female races would draw in the crowds. I enrolled in the Escuela de Jinetes. I was even given a nickname by the other jockeys. Roughly translated it’s The Girl with the Straight Ahead Nose. Yeah, not as cool as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but you take what you get.

I enjoyed it, but I’m 5 feet 8 inches tall so my career as a jockey went only as far as those PR races. As much as I starved, those horses were still carrying way over their limit, but I can still remember what it felt like the first time the bell rang and we leapt out of that gate.

I continued to compete on my horses in events where my weight wasn’t an issue. I got dinged up a lot. I was teaching a senior class when my back packed it in and said enough. Those poor people in my class had to try to pry me off the horse I was riding because I couldn’t move. So at the ripe old age of twenty I had to hang up my boots.

So there it is, my first love. And yeah, I don’t put my picture up ANYWHERE on the internet but believe me, lol, no one’s ever going to recognize me from that faded picture of sixteen year old me. I really like this picture. We’re almost at the gate, he’s about to put her in the chute. The bell will ring. AND WE WILL FLY.

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26 Responses to “Long Ago, in a Land Far Far Away”

  1. What a fantastic experience. I know people who have been involved in racing tend to be really passionate about it — I can only imagine how wonderful it must feel to be connected to such a powerful animal as it runs with all it’s heart.

  2. OMG, I’m so jealous! I was totally horse crazy as a kid, and I would have loved to have tried racing. Or show jumping. Or dressage. But since I lived in cow country, the best I could manage was to get some western riding in. I haven’t ridden in years… Maybe one day if I’m ever fabulously wealthy I can buy a horse. One can always dream, right?

    • That’s all I cared about as a little kid, used to make my parents stop at every pony ride, lol. My father got stationed in West Africa and through a lucky connection I got to learn to ride there. Yes, do not stop dreaming, you might hit the lottery and early retire to a horse farm!

  3. OMG a picture of you! That is astonishing. I don’t think I’d put a pic of me even at 16 so I applaud you and don’t you look fantastic there!

    I love that last paragraph btw :)

    “We’re almost at the gate, he’s about to put her in the chute. The bell will ring. AND WE WILL FLY.”

    I can almost feel your thrill and exultation at the thought of the sprint you’re about to have.

    • I know, I was thinking of you when I put it up, lol. We did fly but came third. I was angry afterwards when the trainer told me they didn’t dope her because I was female. Apparently she had a bad leg. I don’t know how she managed to do as well as she did.

  4. Aww, I can tell you were passionate about it, and that picture is awesome! Thank you so much for posting this. :D

    I read a couple of horse books when I was little, and thought it sounded SO COOL. I never got the chance (fat girls don’t ride horses!), but one day it’s going to happen.

    • Thank you for such an interesting challenge! I was enjoying the responses and felt like a peeping tom if I didn’t respond too!

      I hope you get your chance one day, my big wish is to see the aurora borealis in person one day. Got my fingers crossed for both of us!

  5. Wow!! That’s amazing!!

    I guess I know what you’re doing the First Saturday in May…

    • I do watch, but it’s hard on my husband. I get all teary-eyed but it’s from the memory of their beauty and power not the bad kind of teary-eyed.

      • Yeah, I can appreciate that.

        I guess having an actual Derby party is out of the question, then. (My wife is from Louisville, so I’ve been introduced to that sort of thing.)

  6. Add me to the list of people who are SO ENVIOUS of you getting to RIDE RACEHORSES!!!
    I took riding lessons (English) for three terms while I was in graduate school, and wish I could do it again someday.

    Weren’t you just a cutie at 16! ;)

    • One of the perks of growing up overseas was I got to do a lot of things that would never have happened here. Downside was when I came back, this country scared the crap out of me, lol. Didn’t think I’d ever get used to it!

      • Okay, forgive me, but I am reading some subtext here that may or may not be there, or simply projecting my own sorry self–I too was very tall at age 12, reaching full height of 5’8″, and the only thing out of my starting gate was body image! It sucks to not be able to do what you love to do because of some physical limitations. So, I did not become a ballerina, (too goddess-like), or gymnast. A girlfriend was complaining the other day as she was falling for her current boyfriend that he is too tall at 6-5, and she is tiny. I kept looking at her in amazement, because at 5’8, finding the gentle giant to sweep one of one’s feet was impossible. Wasn’t going to happen. I think of an old boyfriend’s ex-wife who wanted to be an Olympic diver, but alas, also grew too tall. If there is any way you get just be around horses, and care for them again, I don’t know, Tome….I think they need you.

        • I used to hate being tall. Wearing heels was out too. But I remember once in my twenties getting on the elevator at work with a woman who was taller and being offended, lol. How dare she! I’m the tall one!

          You never know, one day we might move farther out from the DC metro area and have a horse/dog farm!

    • Actually when we used to live in the country, we owned a retired racehorse. I never learnt to ride him, I was 7 when we moved to the City. But I do remember being led around the backyard during one of my birthday parties. Everyone had a go riding on his back that afternoon.

  7. What a great picture and what memories it brought back for you. Thanks for sharing that little part of the real you if if you were only 16. I wish I still had the clippings of me in the paper when I was in primary school.

    I was excited when I read that last sentence also :)

    • Thanks Cymre! That folder was full of interesting stuff I’d forgotten.

      It’s amazing with all the things you can forget that the feeling of that split second after the bell was still there!

  8. You look so focused and happy in that picture. In fact the first thing which jumped into my head when I saw it was National Velvet. I watched that movie so many times when I was a child, probably like all girls who loved horses.

    “How dare she! I’m the tall one!”

    This made me a laugh a lot. I’ve been this height (5.8) since I was 12/13 too and like Matty, there were periods where I would have loved to be tiny and delicate and blonde instead. Although despite only being 6 ft, my husband can carry me comfortably so I can at least pretend :p

    • Oh yes, I saw National Velvet many a time! I know, the first really weird thing about being tall was trying to get used to looking down at my mother when I was 12.

      I came to terms with my height finally but that name my mother gave me, ick, that’s a whole different thing, lol.

  9. That’s so cool. I loved horses until I actually rode a couple, then they terrified the bejeesus outta me. I wanted to go There, but noooooo this horse wanted to go over That Way. I wanted to go Here, but noooooooo, NOT TODAY FOOLISH HUMAN. I could not overcome the “OMG THIS HORSE IS GOING TO WALK AWAY WITH ME AND IT’S TOO TALL TO JUMP OFF IT!” feeling.

    I’m not really sure why it was so scary, given that they were, you know, walking.

    The only horse that didn’t scare the crap out of me was, appropriately, named Cutie. Cutie was like the honey badger, she did not give a @#%& that there was a moron sitting on top of her panicking. She had been walking this one trail for years, so I knew that Cutie would never go “OMG NO WTF ARE YOU THINKING” and walk away with me. She’d do the trail no matter what.

    • Also, my nickname in my family is “The Girl.” I don’t even have a “with the insert-trait-here.” This is apparently a result of when I was a wee litle child and would label all my drawings with what the things actually were.

    • ROTFL!!! It was very wise of you not to jump off, repeated jump offs can take a toll. I’m very glad you got together with Cutie who knew her job and took good care of you.

      Well I think being “The Girl” is even fancier! Don’t even need an identifier, just The Girl, and I love the reason for it, always important to label and no reason not to start early!

  10. [...] To be honest, I wasn’t planning on doing this challenge as I didn’t know what I could share – other than what I already had. But over the past couple of weeks, I’ve read on a lot of great things on the topic and realised that everyone has something to contribute no matter what their history is. Mine is very different to the life and death decisions or pivotal events which help shape who we are. Some are horrifying to read, while others prefer to play the naming game and relive first passions. [...]

  11. [...] Tome of the Ancient takes us to “Long Ago,” when bloggers rode horses…no, really, the picture is great, and here’s to passions, new and old. [...]

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