Cheetah was an appy gelding of unimpressive height, build and appearance. He did boast a loud coat that one either loved or hated. His wispy mane was usually trimmed back. Cheetah was a trail horse, considered “bombproof”. Cheetah lived and worked at a riding stables, where he could be hired out by the hour for trail rides through the network of property owned by the stables. Cheetah was probably there a long, long time.
Here’s a photo of Cheetah with a young girl riding him….
The girl’s mother is nearby, and you can see how carefully the ride is beginning. This was the only horse this girl ever rode at the the stables, where she came every other Sunday. She loved Cheetah, and as they grew familiar with each other, they would race through the woods, knowing each turn in the path. There was another girl who always rode a palomino mare, and the four were found together, for years. After a time, money became tight, and the girl went on to other interests, as happens with young girls. She finished high school, then college, traveled to Europe, moved to New York, and had a career.
But the girl never forgot her friend. Many days and nights she remembered the appy with tears in her eyes and love in her heart. Even though there were no longer any actual horses in her life, they remained in her blood. If ever near a stable, she would stop in, and if hiring a horse for an hour was possible, she did. No horse was ever the same as Cheetah, and there was no relationship to enjoy, but at least it was a HORSE. Dreams have a way of stubbornly finding a way to ‘yop’. Eventually this young girl, as an adult, found a way back to her dream. She walked away from the big city and her career, and founded Rosemary Farm.
Yes, this Rosemary Farm.
So how can I feel badly about riding stables?
But Cheetah might have. Cheetah may have been very unhappy there. I don’t know. I don’t know what his turnout was like during the week, or his care or food, and I don’t know what became of him. I know he worked hard on weekends, but as my parents would say, they worked hard all week! I knew enough to book Cheetah for his second hour each morning, because he wasn’t tired out like he was later in the day, and I could extend my time with him into his one hour break, walking and brushing him. I didn’t know anyone who owned horses where I grew up, so this stable was my only access to the creature from my dreams. Cheetah, for one hour each week, was ‘my’ horse. Cheetah allowed me to ride him, walk him, groom him after our lesson..Cheetah allowed my dream to grow. As it is said, one cannot love what one does not understand. As a child, Cheetah provided me with understanding. As an adult, I now wonder if it was worth it for him. As a hack horse, his life might not have been easy, but I have never forgotten him. I still weep with love when I see his face. And gratitude.