|An Artful Animal Alphabet ©MaryMontagueSikes|
Several months ago, we discovered the Heartland series on Netflix. We've been hooked ever since. There are 13 seasons with 18 episodes for each. Not long ago, I started wondering why I so very much enjoyed the program with all the horses, shows, and challenges.
When I was a child growing up in Fredericksburg, Virginia, my uncle owned a horse farm and Oak Hill Stables on the outskirts of the city. I sometimes had the chance to accompany my cousin to the stables. We got to watch the horses being groomed and saw riders practicing on the jumps. It was an amazing experience for a five-year-old.
My cousin had a pony and a pony cart. One day we decided to take a ride in the cart, and we had a great time bumping over the hard-packed clay trail behind the little pony. Everything was fine until a bee stung the small animal, and he took off running with the cart bounding in all directions. I don't remember how we were rescued, but, after that day, we didn't go on any more rides in the pony cart.
My uncle loved horses and participated in all the horse shows in the area. I remember Zero Hour, a tall brown stallion that was his special horse. He won many ribbons riding that horse. He also had a serious accident during a competition. We were at the show that day and saw it all happen.
Visiting the stables was one thing I especially missed when we moved away from Fredericksburg near the end of elementary school. However, when I went off to college at Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, it was ironic that we had four girls crammed into our dormitory room and all three of the other girls were riders. My father didn’t want me going to college to ride, so I never got to join them at the stables. For an entire year, my roommates came back from classes, dressed in jodhpurs and riding boots and smelling like horses. They were always chatting away about the horses, and each one had a favorite. The college horseback riders trained at Oak Hill Stables. My roommate for the rest of my college years was also a rider.
Although I never rode myself, I recall the excitement and the drama of taking riding lessons, mucking out horse stalls, and participating in shows. I feel right at home, watching Heartland and enjoying the days on the Canadian horse ranch.
When we finish with all the Heartland episodes, I’ll be sad and hope that baseball season has already started.