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Dream Come True
Each of us welcomes in the holiday in a different way. My mother chases dust around the house to sweep away and replace with pine scented candles. My sisters write out elaborate lists, describing in detail exactly what they want. Usually a kitten or puppy has something to do with it.
My father’s tradition is to bring out old home videos and revisit days past. Like Scrooge’s own haunt, my father’s videos never let us forget our tantrums, silly moments, and sweetest memories. Stories of our childhood aren’t so much retold to us, as is the popular custom, but shown to us through video so that we can relive the experience ourselves.
Today, as almost every day during holiday break, I have arrived home from the barn to hear the chatter of the television mixing with the resounding laughter of my dad.
“Court, come here!” he says between huffs of merriment. So I come upstairs, somewhat uninterested. I have seen each video so many times that I can quote and reenact each televised moment of my life. My dusty breeches rub against green canvas as I sit on the couch, to behold yet another hilarious instance in my life that I’d rather forget.
As the scene draws to a close and the screen turns blue, I begin to leave. The screen begins to flicker as I stand, in an attempt to keep me simultaneous with my dad’s requests to stay. Brown, blue, black, blue, then the image centers on a tiny figure astride a massive brown horse.
Suddenly I am no longer just watching, but feeling this first precious moment. I am fixated on these two figures as they move somewhat disunited across the screen. Only I could possibly know that the little girl was falling in love.
Before the camera immortalized this moment in film, the very atmosphere had begun to imprint itself forever in my heart. Upon arriving at the stables as a tiny girl of exactly five years old (and don’t you forget it), I found a Utopia that I have since sought out in every location I have ever lived. The rows upon rows of paddocks, each ornamented with a beast more elegant and fantastical than the last. Tall girls on tall horses doing amazingly big things. The smell, even, was captivating. Dusty and fresh, like a gust of wind and something else, something indescribable.
Inside the barn I met Kathy and her horse Chinook. I was in love. Kathy may have told me to do things, and I’m sure I did them with religious vigor. However, it wasn’t Kathy I was truly tuning into. It was Chinook.
To me today, he would have been considered somewhat small. But to the five year old me, he was massive, flawless, yet completely undaunting. With the boldness that a child posses, I picked up each steel foot and dug out with excitement each speck of dirt. I carefully polished his coat with my pink brush set, studying the values of brown in his coat, from tawny all the way to smoldering charcoal as the shadows from the rafters fell upon him. Though I could not lift up the petite saddle, I watched with sympathy as Chinook laid his ears back in annoyance and the contraption was placed on his back, and as the girth was tightened around his belly.
I followed Kathy and Chinook to the musty arena, where no colors but shades of brown existed. My small blue rain boots faded to shades of sepia as I trekked behind my instructors and was hoisted onto Chinook’s broad back. The height may have scared me another time, but my faith in Chinook outweighed anything else that day. I may not have at that time heard a click from the video camera being turned on, but the evidence of what happened next is history.
The lurching and swinging gait of Chinook easily became the rhythm of my own movement. My body quickly learned to become comfortable with the rolling waves of motion. Hands were for guidance, legs were for speed. These things are so innate to me now, watching them become programmed within the fiber of my mind is amazing. I feel the rush now of going over my first “jump”, the extra bunching of muscle and pitch of stride Chinook made over a ground pole.
The next time I was near my mother and her camera, I stopped Chinook and looked over to her.
“Mommy, this is a dream come true,” I said in my most serious voice, a mere squeak of what it is now.
And truly, since then every time I get on a horse, every time I win a championship or make a sale, every time I go to work as a student, I am reminded that I am living in my own dream. Each horse I ride is another Chinook, perhaps a titanium white or glossy bay. Each one is a new love affair, a renewal of my commitment to these creatures which captivate me so.
And with me on that journey, every step of the way, are my parents. I can see my father now, just as captivated by the little girl falling in love. We are sitting closer together than before, and his arm has somehow ended up around my shoulders.
It is at this moment I realize why my father watches old videos at Christmastime. He is remembering what we have to be thankful for, and he is remembering how we got there.