In which I didn't intend to have a bunch of daughters, but somehow....

Horses are a natural girl-magnet.

Certainly I have told my parents (frequently, at volume, for many years) that they would've slept much more soundly during my teen years if they'd sprung for riding lessons instead of piano lessons. After all, what could a mere boyfriend compare to the loveliness of a horse?

But they didn't listen to me, and so I was a troublemaker who (for good or evil) rarely got caught in my many transgressions against the mores of society.

Fast-forward to a few months prior to my 30th birthday, when I (finally) figured out that if I wanted a pony for my birthday, I needed to get one for myself. And so, with a little help from a woman who recognized horsaii syndrome in me and facilitated the trading of a no-good-for-me husband for a weight-in-gold mare.

Fast-forward again, to me, living single in the City and still hanging out with the mare. I acquired my first horse-daughter as the result of a bad date at a local bookstore:

When the nice (but boring! no horsaii here!) young man allowed a break in conversation, I sprinted for the bookseller's desk and ordered a book about endurance riding.

This led to a nice conversation about horses with the bookseller and soon enough her daughter started taking riding lessons--on my mare! We've ridden together ever since.

By the time Jim and I had horses in adjacent stalls, we'd acquired more horse daughters--kids who would do anything for a chance to ride, and who actually chose--voluntarily!--to spend 50 miles or more of trail with one or both of us. I don't know if the kids ever realized how much they made us smile out there when the miles got long.

When you get a reputation for riding with kids, the word spreads in ridecamp. Other kids (and their parents, and even ride management) want to make sure there are kids riding with us. It can't be my charming personality--anyone who has seen me at the 60-mile vetcheck knows that I am not charming!

There is, instead, a natural attraction between horsaii kids and horsaii adults: people who consider hanging out with horses to be the best good thing of all good things.

Many of the kids are out on their own now--off to college, working at a "real" job, starting families of their own.

They are, nevertheless, always and forever, horse daughters to Jim and me, the true children of our hearts. When Willy moved in with us this spring, he was surprised to learn that our house was already full of teenagers at times--girls who, though no blood relation to any of us, are considered daughters of the family. I must say: he's pretty brave about hanging out with a passel of pretty girls!

After all these miles, they still make us smile.


  1. What a nice essay. Your mom didn't need to know all the sins you were committing. I trusted you to ultimately do the right thing.

  2. That is really nice! I have two (real) daughters and have had a couple of horse daughters as well.

  3. It would have made all the difference in the world to have had a horsaii mentor at that age. I had to do it for myself, too. I think it's wonderful that young people are so drawn to you, and that you respond to that.

  4. Aw, I love that you have horse daughters! :) I guess I have my first one right now and she is a sweetie. I love watching a young girl find confidence on the back of a horse, especially when it is my older mare. Priceless. :)cringf

  5. Whoops...that weird word "cringf" was the word verification for my comment. LOL!

  6. You are one of many people I know of who have swapped a husband for a horse.

    The lady who helps me find hay has like a zillion horse daughters (plus her own). I wish that I had known someone like her when I was a young rider.

  7. I think a lot of horsaii have been in the position of needing to swap some aspect of life (job, relationship, housing arrangement, whatever) for a horse.

    I was fortunate enough to have a good friend who recognized the need for a change, and who helped facilitate the trade!

    Although I was older at the time than my horse-daughters now, I still regard that friend as a horse mum.


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