03 July 2010
A Horse of My Own
This is a mini essay I wrote on a childhood memory for an online creative writing class I am taking:
Like almost every little girl since the beginning of time, I loved horses. And like many girls, whose family couldn’t afford a real horse, I had to make do with substitutes. I had stick horses, a “Marvel the Mustang” ride-on toy and books full of photos of horses, but my favorites were my Breyer horse models. They not only looked like real horses but they were just the right size to play with and fairly sturdy. Except for the unfortunate Appaloosa who broke his leg when I accidentally sat on him, they held up well for indoor and outdoor play. Later on, when I learned the collectible value of these popular models, I cringed to think how I had “ruined” some of them. Looking back now, though, I see that their value to me as playmates was far greater.
I wasn’t an only child, but I was the youngest by a long way (sixteen years, to be exact) and spent a lot of my time in solitary play. The horses were perfect playthings; I could make up stories about them and act them out. I had several family sets: a stallion, mare and foal of a particular breed. My favorite set was the Andalusians. The mare was dapple grey and posed in a trot with an arched neck. Her thin legs meant I had to be a bit careful with her, so most of the time she stayed in the box with her little bay foal. The stallion, on the other hand, was pure white and posed in a gallop with his head and tail high. He was just the right size for my hand to fit right behind the withers, where a saddle would go. With my thumb on one side of his barrel and the rest of my hand on the other, I was riding a swift horse through all sorts of adventures.
Most often, he was Shadowfax, the mystical white steed ridden by Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. Even before I was old enough to read the books, I knew the stories of Middle-Earth, which my eldest sister had read to me. My little Shadowfax could gallop across the floor, climb the steep sided mountain of the couch and then leap down again to the vast plains below.
Sometimes, my Andalusian raced against one of his stablemates. He was always in my right hand, rocking in a beautiful gallop, while his opponent was held in my left hand, awkwardly trying to keep up in an ungraceful galumphing gait. Of course, he always won. I played with the galloping white horse so much that the oils in my skin discolored the plastic on his shoulders, turning it an odd shade of orange. This made him “worthless” from a collectible standpoint, but priceless to my childhood self.