I mentioned in the Mother's Day post that my Mom was responsible for getting the riding-lesson-ball rolling when I was seven years old. I started off with private lessons on a darling Shetland named Blondie. Blondie was the kind of pony that all Moms wanted their children to ride. Some Moms literally argued over whose turn it was to ride the little mare! She was small. She was sweet. She was slow. But there was one thing wrong with Blondie. She was a walking allergen. I do not remember the allergy attacks that apparently paralleled my initial career as a youth rider. My Mother insists that she had to throw me in the tub and give me Benadryl, because my eyes were so puffy that I could barely open them and my brains were hastefully exiting out my nose. I am sure that I was smiling blindly through all the mucus and sneezing, dreaming only of my next ride on Blondie.
So the allergies prompted my parents to come up with a means to save their daughter from her new found joy. In hindsight, I know that the allergies and the financial burden of weekly riding lessons were really to blame, but my Dad offered a clever explanation. He told me that all sports have an off-season. Players train and compete for part of the year, and rest (and vacation?) for the remainder. From then on, I was to have an off-season. In fact, I was so lucky that I had two! My off-season was divided between two parts of the year: winter and summer. This also worked well for Mom, because she did not have to travel in the extremes of either season, although I was not above begging for the occasional mid-off-season ride. I am very grateful to my parents for funding my initial years of riding lessons. I know that riding lessons cost a lot of money when compared to piano lessons or the community soccer team, but you cannot help what you love. Thank goodness my parents cared enough to make it happen for me, even if I was basically a fair-weather rider. Despite my gratitude, I still resented the off-season, and as my eligibility for something called "working papers" approached, I devised a plan to take my off-seasons off the schedule.
To be continued...