The Black Stallion film was released in theaters during my birth year and was shown again locally when I was old enough to sit in a movie theater. I believe that it was the first movie that I saw in the theaters, although it is a close tie with E.T. From age three, I do remember seeing the movie and that it coincided very closely with my first time sitting on a horse. These two experiences solidified my fascination with the animal, which, thirty years later, has never lost momentum. I am physically unable not to shed tears when Alec and The Black make contact for the first time and during the flashbacks to the beach in the race scene at the end of the movie. In my opinion, the film is remarkably and undeniably beautiful: the scenery, the cinematography, the music, and how these elements of film come together to color the story of a boy and his horse, two souls who saved each other.
As a kid with a healthy imagination, sometimes I was Alec, sometimes I was The Black. I inspired other girls on the playground at recess to be my herd and we cantered and galloped around the school yard like a horse-crazed mob. I guess that my dedication to the role was contagious, because a surprisingly small number of kids made fun of us. Most girls wanted to "run with the pack" and a few boys who dared criticize usually got their toes stomped on, stallion-style. I was actually reprimanded for this, because I liked to wear black shoes with a heel that could seriously deal a painful blow. I grew out of this before fourth grade, but it must have been a sight on the playground.
Fast forward to the years between college and marrying my husband, who was my long-distance steady after graduation. My riding instructor, the dressage rider with the lovely chestnut mare, surprised me with a newly purchased horse. He was blond. He was handsome. He was five. He was a "whole" male horse. And the best part? As a registered, pure-bred Halflinger stallion, "Harry" was my size!
|Harry: At 14.1 hands, he is the petite stallion.|
Less than a year before, I had lost my (leased) beloved mare, who will certainly reappear in my memoirs, so I had been riding my instructor's lovely Garbo. This was a cherished opportunity, since she was an FEI dressage horse, but when a horse has a very strong connection with another person, it always feels a little flat riding that horse if you are not "that person". This was especially noticeable after losing a horse and the bond we had developed over several years. I had actually started looking for other places to ride, because my sadness was leaving me restless and I wondered if it would be best to move on. Enter Harry. We became fast buds. I needed a new horse to love and he needed a feisty girl to ride him. Boy were we in for some interesting times.
|First Show: Introductory Level Dressage, 67%|
|There was no doubting Harry's talents in dressage. He also developed skills in jumping and driving.|
I only rode Harry for a year or two, while I was working as a chemist. Unfortunately, I did not have many daylight hours for riding, but I made do with the time that I had. When I got married and moved away, I had to say "Good-Bye" to this handsome fellow, but his lessons stayed with me. The most valuable was the importance of riding a horse who fits your person. I used to love riding big (16+ hand) horses, undeniably because I liked feeling taller. But truth be told, I rode Harry with much more ease than the larger horses I had become accustomed to riding. I finally appreciated the horses of my height and enjoyed riding with less muscle and greater effectiveness. I thank Harry for influencing me to choose a rather small horse in Harley and for teaching me the tactfulness that is required to ride even a petite stallion.
Look for Harry in future Memoirs!