It's early October, the time of year when, many years ago now, our lives changed significantly.
It all started this coming Saturday, sixteen years ago on a day just like the one pictured above. A day warm with a last touch of summer and cool with a new touch of winter. A friend who lives at the cabin had acquired a couple of horses. I'd watched with envy that summer as he and friends passed our cabin on rides.
On that October Saturday years ago, he'd offered to let a friend and I take a ride on his horses. We'd saddled up and gone way up into the mountains, riding logging roads of years gone by, now overgrown with brush. I'd gone on trail rides before but on that day something was dramatically different. The reds and yellows of the changing leaves and scent of damp ground jumped out and enticed me. It was the most beautiful, glorious ride I'd ever had.
After we finished our ride I returned to the cabin to find my husband sitting on the couch reading a book. That moment is still vivid in my mind. I'd sat on the arm of the couch next to him and delivered the news that would change our lives.
My husband knew I was horse crazy when he'd married me. He'd always given me space to join friends (who owned horses) on rides or to just hang out. He'd tolerated our first stop as the horse barn each year we went to the county fair and he'd sweated and cheered with me at rodeos.
I think he thought all those things would keep my interest sated. So when I sat on the arm of the couch that fall day and announced the time had come - I was going to buy a horse, he groaned and bluntly told me all the (reasonable) reasons why I could not/should not own a horse.
I told him I was forty and felt the clock ticking - I couldn't wait any longer. I had just sold my used car after replacing it with a new one. I had a big, whopping $500 for a horse and it was burning a hole in my pocket. We debated, sometimes passionately (on my behalf), and the subject was dropped with a silence of two not agreeing.
By that following Wednesday I had a lead on a horse, owned by a friend of my sister. An older horse, daughter was no longer interested and they didn't want much for her. By Friday, on another sunny day such as above, my sister and I were on our way to "look" at the horse.
The mare was exactly the price I had in the pocket of my jeans. I liked her - she was pretty. Within minutes of seeing her I agreed to purchase her. We would return the following morning to have the owners haul her to my sister's farm.
I returned home as my husband was leaving for his annual weekend deer hunt. I told him I'd found a horse and I was going to buy her. To say he didn't agree with my plan was an understatement. His last words as he left for hunting were, "Don't you dare buy that horse."
But that's exactly what I did. On a now windy and rainy day, Sunshine was delivered to my sister's barn the following day. A neighbor came over to check her out. In retrospect I think the neighbor was concerned about exactly what I'd purchased, knowing I didn't know squat about buying a horse let alone owning one.
But he said nice things about her and offered to sell me a saddle, bridle and pad since I had no tack. That night I returned home to sleep with all that tack next to my bed, reaching out to touch it numerous times during the night. I didn't get much sleep that night but I sure did touch that saddle a lot.
Sunday dawned with cold, wind and rain. I returned to my sister's house to check on Sunshine. On this day I didn't stay long. I was not looking forward to my husband's return from hunting. I knew I'd stepped over the line with what I'd done but I couldn't help myself.
My husband returned from hunting to find the house spotless and a turkey dinner with all the trimmings waiting for him. I met him at the door. He took a look around the house, at the table set for dinner and at me. I couldn't help it; I looked back at him beaming with joy. He said four words..."you bought a horse" before he silently walked away from me. Those were the last words he said to me for almost seven days.
We lived in dead silence at home. That following weekend I arrived at my sister's house to see my husband coming out of the barn. I will never forget the words he said to me as he walked towards me..."she's very sweet and pretty".
I will also never forget the generosity in his heart to forgive me for an action I swear I could not avoid. His acceptance of Sunshine made my world complete.
Sunshine. First Horse.