I was just like every other pre-teen girl who lived and breathed horses. Everything that had meaning in my life in one way or another had to do with a horse. Not that I actually owned one at that point in my life, but I did get to take lessons and show a little bit.
Then one day my Dad had me get out of school (yea!) to go to a boring banquet with a bunch of adults. I ate my chicken and peas, pretty much daydreaming about nothing in particular, when this man that had been talking came to sit down next to me. My father had told him that I just loved horses and he just wanted to talk to me about them. I wasn’t a shy, inhibited little kid any more. I talked and talked and he was the first adult who was really interested in what I had to say about my love for horses.
The years passed and the kind man came to town several times. My father always let me get out of school so I could see him again. Those adult lunches weren’t boring anymore. He always made time to speak to me alone and sometimes made the adults wait a bit. I was certainly special, or at least that is the way he made me feel.
Then one warm spring day, I was ill and couldn’t go to school, but worse, I couldn’t go the banquet and see my special horse friend. So I sat in my room and moped as only a young girl can. Around two, I noticed this really big car stop in front of my house. My special horse friend and his wife had come to see me! I hurried and sat on the fifth or sixth stair while he sat two below me. His wife patiently waited while we had our little chat. I was so happy that he stopped on his way out of town to see me!
He told me to hold onto my dream and never lose my love for the sport or the animal.
There were a few bumps along the way and my dream faded from time to time, but his words always came back to me, especially when I seemed most lost as a young adult. I have achieved most of my desires and today have taught thousands of children and adults to ride to the best of their ability. I also have managed to stumble upon some special horses, which I have been thrilled to ride. In my travels, I have met so many wonderful people: the wealthy owner, the working student, and the families that all just want the same thing -- the best for the sport and the horses that make it great.
By now you most likely have guessed that my special horse friend was our 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. I didn’t care that he was a movie star and I could see him every week on T.V. What mattered is that he loved horses and cared enough to talk to another person who shared his passion. He taught me to make my vocation my avocation -- what a gift he gave me!
I’ll miss him.