4.6.12

Gold.


I've never spoken about it here, so it may come as a surprise to some that the majority of my childhood and adolescence was spent on the back of a horse. As a five year old, I remember my Dad telling me that if I wished hard enough for a pony, my dream just might come true. So I wished and wished and wished my little heart out, and then one day the equine fairies gave me Samson. I couldn't believe my eyes - my very own pony! Can you imagine the joy on a little girls face to see such a sight? Samson was what they call a Shetland pony, he was small, cute, fluffy and... completely psychotic! He soon revealed himself to be my worst nightmare come to life. He bit me, kicked me and bolted at every chance he could. Once it (immediately) became obvious to my parents that I was clearly not enjoying this new recreational sport and didn't really appear to be 'bonding' with my mount, it was decided that we would send him back and look for something a little... more suitable.

Enter Goldie. Advertised in the local paper as a 'bombproof'* beginners pony,  this gentle and elegant flaxen mare ticked all the right boxes...except the budget. When the seller refused to drop the price, she very nearly didn't make it home with us. I owe much to my older brother Scott who managed to convince Mum and Dad that 'with a free rug and feed bucket thrown in, she really isn't too bad 'a deal'. And so home she came.

Within weeks I found myself on the regional gymkhana circuit being led around by my Mum who was taking to this new country life like a fish to water. After each event, the judges would tie blue ribbon after blue ribbon around Goldie's neck - we were having so much fun that it didn't even occur to us to ask what they were for. It wasn't until the end of our very first gymkhana day that Mum finally (and rather sheepishly) asked 'Excuse me, what does blue mean?'. Our new friends laughed, 'Blue means you've won first place' they replied. '...Oh'. I guess you could say winning six blue ribbons out of a possible seven on my first day wasn't too shabby at all.

As a team, Goldie and I went on to compete in regional and state competitions for the next five years (I then moved on to a bigger horse, but that's a different story!). As I progressed to be quite a competitive and advance rider, Goldie adapted with me, performing at her peak in very competitive, high speed events. That pony went like the clappers - we were unbeatable.

When my younger sister Stephanie turned three, the cycle started again - and Goldie found herself once more being led around in the under seven's age group with my Mum by her side. Other families were astonished at how this pony could switch from being a complete speed demon one minute and straight back to 'bombproof' beginners pony the next. My parents were often labelled irresponsible for letting such a tiny tot on the back of a pony that was notorious for her speedy antics and jittery nature when being ridden by the older sister. But they didn't know Goldie like we did - she was safe as houses that little mare. She was good as gold.

My sister Stephanie went on to win countless blue ribbons (not to mention the trophies!) just as I did. Goldie offered Stephanie the same unconditional love and companionship that she had given me. They bonded just as we had.

The relationship between horse and rider is quite a sacred thing. There is so much trust. Eternal loyalty. There have been periods in my adult life where I have gone years without seeing Goldie. But without fail, she always remembers me. How could she forget the tone of the voice that has called her name from across the paddock literally thousands of times, or the breath that has tickled her fur-lined ears countless times with the whisper of 'Good girl, Goldie. I love you'? Just the same, I could never forget her smell - that salty, earthy, dusty smell that would completely engulf me each time I rode her. Or that gentle shuddering whinny that she would greet me with as I approached her with a slice of molasses-dipped bread.

The day that we brought Goldie home, I was six and she was twelve. Today she stands graceful and content at a ripe old age of 35 (that's extremely old in horse years - the equivalent of 100 human years). Last week Paddy, my sister Stephanie and I took Lalie to visit her - to feed her bread and to ride around the paddock being led by her Mum.

Everything was golden that afternoon - the iridescent sky, the wise old pony and our reminiscing hearts. As we all piled into the car for the journey back home, I was ever so aware of the salty, earthy, dusty aroma that would follow us there. And I was grateful.

*Top photo shows a selection of photographs of both my sister and I as youngsters riding Goldie. The second photo was taken by a family friend circa 1992. Photos below with me in them were taken by Paddy :)

*Bombproof suggests very calm, quiet and unlikely to spook (even in the event of a bomb exploding!). Such a silly term.

 

43 comments :

  1. Love the picture of Lalie with Goldie... what a lovely story! Thanks for sharing it.

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  2. What a lovely memory and what beautiful pictures. Made me a little teary (haha).

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  3. such a beautiful story, you wrote it so well. I actually am crying a little bit. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. A small tear came to my eye. I ride horses too and that smell and feeling their mane between your fingers is so magical. It's amazing how they remember you so well, too.
    That's so special you rode her and now your daughter is. So perfect<3

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  5. Such a lovely story and the photos are just gorgeous! x

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  6. Beautiful words, beautiful pictures. How utterly sweet that your mum led you round on Goldie, and now you've done the same with your daughter. Completely precious. xx

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  7. AnonymousJune 05, 2012

    I wouldn't call myself a horse person, or even an animal person, but this beautiful post brought tears to my eyes.

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  8. So beautiful, I wish I'd been able to keep my horse.

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  9. Oh Claire; so eloquently written and the most stunning photos to illustrate. That golden bokeh! X

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  10. What a rich legacy to share with Eulalie!

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  11. Beautiful. It really is so special - the bond between man and beast. They hold such a special place in our hearts. She seems like such a sweet horse - so kind and patient with Lalie. What a wonderful story Claire. I truly enjoyed it and the photos are breathtaking.

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  12. Ow, I've got tears in my eyes. Such a gorgeous story. Kellie xx

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  13. Oh what a beautiful story and even more beautiful photographs. I was horse-crazy when I was a girl (and still secretly am!) though have never been lucky enough to own my own horse. Thanks for sharing and understand completley. x

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  14. Reading this actually makes me a little teary! Beautiful photos, and such a beautiful story xx

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  15. Beautiful story and photos, Claire. I loved horses as a child, obsessed about them. But owning one wasn't an option for me unfortunately. My aunt did buy a palomino called Hannah, who I got to help with, but she certainly was never considered bomb proof, and so I never got to ride her.

    Love Lalie's face as she pats Goldie's nose.

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  16. She's just beautiful Claire and how lovely that Lalie gets to visit your favourite childhood pony. What lovely memories to have. x

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  17. Well them's some pretty special photos you've got there. What an amazing story (and horse!).

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  18. what a beautiful story to share from your childhood, claire. and these photos! paddy is just as talented behind the lens! so so gorgeous. I was smiling the entire time I was reading x

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  19. You must have the magic tear-up wand in your writing hands today. Oh, it's the pictures too. Just beautiful.

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  21. Oh you made my cry :( I have such a similar story of a little pony that could. When I was five and my sister seven we got 'Danny' - he taught me so much about myself, about confidence, about horesmanship and freindship and loyalty and oh so much more. Today Danny is 28 years old (I am 25). He stands in the gum tree paddock on my family's farm still with my sisters mare, his constant companion. I don't know how much longer Danny will be with us, my nieces now feed him and ride him gently, he is still the stubborn little pony we all know and love. I miss him enormously after reading this and want to go give his velvet nose a scratch.

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  22. She is looking good for such a ripe old age!

    Elliot and i have just been patting the horses in the paddock next to Aila's kindy. The horsy smell is all over me. I was driving home thinking about my days with my horse Bubs (also bombproof). . . and then here I find your horsey reminiscings. fancy that!

    rachel xox

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  23. Oh that brought a tear to my eye...I grew up with horses and the one I connected with was called pepper. He was my gorgeous chestnut man and we were always in tune with each other... He taught me what it was like to truly have an understanding with someone/thing...

    Goldie sounds like a truly fine and beautiful horse...

    Stunning images to match this lovely story too.

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  24. bloody hell Claire, you could have included a virtual tissue. I'm tear streaked.

    You are are bundle of talent and surprises. What else have you got hidden away?

    Stunning piece of writing my friend. Your love for goldie and what she meant to you and your (seriously attractive) sister.

    big love m'lady. HUGE in fact.

    xo em

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  25. Such a wonderful story and beautiful pictures , so special that Laile gets to spend time with her.
    Xx

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  26. What lovely memories you have. It's so special that Goldie is still there to meet your kids. Beautiful photgraphs

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  27. What beautiful photos (as alwasy!)
    Goldie is just gorgeous.
    You are full of surprises, I would never have picked you as the Horse Type! But you were obviously a natural and it must be in Lalies blood!

    Haha I want to see a pic of the psycotic shetland pny!

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  28. beautiful, thank you for sharing such a sweet memory.
    XO

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  29. what a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful photos too.

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  30. magical. i'm seriously blown away with the beauty of it all. gorgeous photos! x

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  31. oh look at her! such a majestic steed! you can see what a loved old lady she is. a lovely story, you captured that special relationship between horse and rider so beautifully!

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  32. Beautiful memories, stunning photos and such a tear jerker of a story - thank you!!

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  33. Oh Claire, this is so beautiful, so poetic. Thank you for sharing Goldie with us.

    And beautiful photography Paddy!

    xx

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  34. Wow those are really beautiful photographs. Just gorgeous, especially the light. Perfect.

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  35. This is just so beautiful. I'm so glad that you shared this.

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  36. So so beautiful. Magical photos. xx

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  37. Beautiful post Claire. x

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  38. Oh Claire, I'm crying AND have shivers running down my spine. What an amazing story. What an amazing pony.

    xx

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  39. Oh wow! How I can related to this story! I have been horse ridding before I could even walk! I lost my first ever horse a few years ago, and this story just made me cry my little eyes out! Goldie is such a little treasure! and what a beauty at 35!!

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  40. Utterly beautiful, Claire. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story of friendship and heritage, x

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  41. Beautiful words and photos, Claire. The relationship between horse and rider is, indeed, truly sacred. I had my own horse, Shantih, a fiery strawberry roan mare, for five years. She was my best friend. Unfortunately we had a nasty riding accident that found her at the vet for almost a month and a huge vet bill, so my parents reluctantly had to sell her until I was old enough to pay for these types of things myself. I still think of her often. (I secretly hope Everly is interested in horses!) How magical that you still have your childhood pony to visit. Goldie is beautiful. x

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  42. Just beautiful, theres nothing luckier than a little girl who grows up with a pony. You never forget your first love x

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - it really means so much. I will try to reply where I can! xx