Having always regarded horses and equine activities as a bastion of the upper class, I never thought that I, a member of the middle class, would have anything much to do with horses. But, in 1981 my adorable daughter was born and before she even learned to talk, she became smitten with these creatures.
I thought she'd outgrow this infatuation with horses, certainly before I'd have to deal with worrying about how to afford a horse, or riding lessons and equestrian clothing, etc.
In her elementary school years, my daughter did not excel. According to her teachers and other child experts we took her to, she was mentally slow. They told my husband and I that we should not be concerning ourselves with a college education for her. We just knew they were wrong and set out to prove it was THEM, not her who was deficient.
When she was ten years old, we started allowing her to take horseback riding lessons. She took to them like ducks take to water, and her infatuation with everything about horses continued to grow. When she was riding, the shy and introverted child that she appeared to be in school was transformed. On that horse, she presented as the self assured champion we knew her to be.
The cost of riding can be prohibitive and we struggled to keep up with the costs involved in learning to ride.
Then, almost miraculously, when she was in the sixth grade, she received an offer that she, and we, could just not refuse. She could earn her lessons and receive them free, in exchange for helping out at the stables, doing chores from grooming the horses, to helping younger and less experienced riders. We had found a solution to the ever growing problem of how to pay for her "horse crazy" life.
Fast forward six years to her high school graduation day. She earned top honors in all her subjects and a full scholarship to one of the finest colleges in the country. At seventeen, she finally replaced her first love, an old horse named Merlin with her first boyfriend on her notebook, however, her boyfriend had a firm understanding that he was there only because he was so supportive of her passion for horses.
Our 3.8 grade point average college graduate never cost us a dime after her sixth grade. She worked steadily at the stable until she graduated.
We credit her love and passion for all things horse with her success, not only in school, but in life. Her willingness to earn her lessons at such an early age instilled in her a work ethic that other parents have coveted for their own children.
We are extremely glad that we allowed our daughter to become involved in this "costly" pastime all those years ago. It acted as an incentive for her to adjust and find her place in this otherwise crazy world. Horses accomplished what the "experts" could not - just by being there for her.