I’ve loved horses as long as I can remember.
My first official riding lesson was at a stable in North London, England, when I was 10 years old. The stolid liver chestnut school pony’s name was Welshman. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
As a young girl I spent countless hours pouring through equestrian equipment catalogues, writing and re-writing lists of horse and pony breeds, colours, markings, names … you name it. I participated in Pony Weeks (a horse to call my own for a whole week!).
I learned to feed, blanket, muck, fetch, groom, clean tack, and stay out of the way of biters and kickers.
Of course, I begged my mother for a horse, but as we were a one-parent/one-income family the dream of a cream-coloured pony in my garden shed stayed just that … a dream.
I devoured horse books — read Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion and others from the series countless times. (Oh, how I wanted to be Alec Ramsey and happen upon a horse like ‘The Black.’ — The movie version of 1979 is magical.) The Misty of Chincoteague books by Marguerite Henry were another favourite. And Thelwell made me see the funny side of the equine obsession. Still does.
Copies of these old books still live in my equestrian collection.
We lived two-hours by bus away from the stable, so going to ride was an entire day’s excursion. But, of course, I didn’t mind. I wanted to hang out with the horses, maybe even help with the stable chores so I could catch a ride around the stable block on the ancient, sway-back, toothless grey Arabian, Sultan.
Time on the back of any horse was pure heaven.
I can still recite the names of most of the horses from that first stable of my childhood, including my favourites: Black Jack – a biter who seemed to like me for some reason so didn’t bother me too much; Major – a big dapple grey with a Roman nose; Maybe – a deep, red chestnut mare I absolutely fell in love with because she made me feel so special when I rode her (called by this name because the owner used to say “Maybe she’ll be ready by May and maybe she won’t!”); Lucky – another pretty chestnut mare; Freckles – a strawberry roan mare I had a lot of fun jumping with; and, Cloud – the beautiful cream colour pony of my dreams who, when he came up for sale, I begged and begged and begged my mom to buy. I’ve already told you how that ended.
Thirty-five years on I finally did acquire my first horse. Shakespeare, though not cream-coloured, was everything I could have dreamed, and more. He was my muse; he got the creative juices flowing, and in the process healed my heart and changed my life. I had him for 12 years. He died in November 2017 of torsion colic. A terrible loss because I loved him so.
In 2014, my equestrian life took a therapeutic turn when I became certified as a practitioner of Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning (FEEL), and then a year later achieved Advanced status. It is remarkable how horses have the ability to help us heal our emotional lives. My focus has been on understanding the nature of sacred space and cultivating that on my farm so that people can thrive with their horses in an environment that is based in heart energy.
In 2015, another horse, Sophia Loren, trotted into my life. Shakespeare had sustained a career-ending injury and I still wanted to ride. To my great joy she has given me my wings. Together we are taking flight at fourth level/Prix St. Georges dressage, and enjoying every minute of it.
Now my life with horses has taken an even more creative turn with my fine art photography and a WINNIE Award for Best Equestrian Photo Journal from EQUUS Film Festival 2018 for my project Unsung Heroines of the Horse Industry.
Where will it end?
I hope it never does …
Welcome to my horse crazy world!
Thanks for visiting …
©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019 … Aimwell CreativeWorks