Today I decided to share something personal. I want to tell you a story of how I managed to get my first horse before my thirteenth birthday and then how my horse was stolen from me a few months later. I hope no one has to go through something like this.
As I have mentioned a few times before, I started volunteering for a horse ranch one summer when I was twelve. I loved it there and still have so many fond memories of the place. It was the only place I really felt like I belonged and had friends. It was where I was taught to work hard and where I gained my foundation on horse-back riding. Without that ranch, I wouldn't be the person that I am today. I try to focus on all the good times instead of the couple worst times.
Now, we will call the owner of the ranch Percy, and her daughter we will call Renee, for their privacy.
I still remember the night I received the Christmas present of all Christmas presents. It was December 7, 2003. I had just finished marching in the Christmas Parade for school band and then Mom, Grandma, Grandpe, and I were on our way to ranch because tonight was a big celebration. The ranch had been in business for five years and they also wanted to recognize and honor all of the volunteers.
Everyone was there. Even the volunteers who only came out a couple times a month plus everyone's parents, and boarders and other family and friends were all there. We were in this big tent and it was packed with just over one hundred people. About three-quarters of the way through the ceremony, Percy called all the volunteers to the stage to be recognized. We were each given matching denim jackets with our names on them and hat shaped pins or bracelets.
When Percy finished the volunteer recognition, she asked that I and a few other volunteers to stay on stage. She gave us each a piggy bank. You see, none of us that were on stage had our own horse, so these piggy banks were to be left in the lounge (where everyone hung out together) so that people could drop in some change to help us save for buying our own horses one day. It was a very sweet gesture.
Next, Percy brings me up to the microphone to do a little individual recognition of how much her daughter thought of me like a little sister. She told me to walk outside the tent and tell her what I saw. So away I went. I had no idea what to expect.
Suddenly, here comes Renee from around the nearby lounge with a horse next to her. Around the horse's neck was a huge red bow. She had given me a horse! Talk about every little girl's dream come true. It seemed so strange since I hardly knew Renee, but it didn't matter. I had my first horse. She was a bay mare, only two years old, untrained, and her name was Matti.
A few months passed after I had been given my horse and she was really coming along with her training. One day, when I went out to the pasture to catch her, she was missing. When I went to the tack lounge to find out where she was, Percy and Renee were there. They had decided to take her back. I found out that there were some untold expectations. My quiet personality was suddenly seen as rude and I was also apparently supposed to call Renee when I rode so she would know about my progress. She told me I had 30 days to change my personality to get my horse back.
I never saw Matti or Renee again. Percy ended up giving me another horse, Summer when my mom threatened to bring in a lawyer. We didn't have a case since there was no bill of sale, but my mom knew she had to do something for me. Not long after getting Summer, I left with one of my friends and my mentor to a different boarding facility.
The whole incident taught me a lot. It has taken me years to get over the hurt and the betrayal I experienced. The moral of the story is that you should always be careful to get a bill of sale when you get a horse and even people you trust can stab you in the back. The other moral of the story is, don't waste years of your life holding a grudge against someone. It is hard looking passed the pain, but it really is better to learn how to forgive and forget.