Thursday, June 2, 2011

Memoirs: How A Horse Girl Afforded Riding Lessons, Part 2

Part 1

I wasted no time as the signing date for my working papers grew near.  With practicality my motivator, I scoured the employment options for a young teen entering the work force.  My friend's older sister was a lifeguard and I learned that I could make seven dollars per hour working at the local pool.  No other part-time job could compete with that pay rate and few companies would hire someone so young, so I signed up for lifeguard training.  This tapped into my savings, which I carefully managed from allowances, birthdays, and the occasional babysitting job, but I could see the future and I knew that I would quickly make back the certification fees.  With careful budgeting, I would be able to say "Good-Bye" to off seasons and "Hello" to riding lessons all year long!

Several weeks later, I completed the American Red Cross Lifeguard training, passed all the tests, and became a certified lifeguard at age fourteen.  The age cutoff has since been raised to fifteen, and looking back I cannot believe that I was able to complete some of those tests.  I retrieved a ten pound weight from the bottom of the diving tank and held it at chin-level while treading water for at least one minute.  I swam more laps than I ever had before or since and many of them were with a "victim" in tow.  Knowing that my slight frame had to be strong enough to save a swimmer in distress, the evaluators certainly did not go easy on me.  For the final test, I had to tow an "active" victim the length of an Olympic-size swimming pool with the lane ropes removed.  My "victim" was a six-foot tall, male lifeguard and he thrashed and rolled like crazy to try and dislodge my hold as I pulled him across the lanes.  Little did he know, I had the dreams of affording my saddle time and years of following the movement of a 1000 pound animal on my side.  I held on to that "victim" like my life depended upon it and finished the final trial victorious!  It was a very proud day.

...I never became employed as a lifeguard.  Shortly after earning my certification, I inquired about working at the local pool and learned of their strict employment rules.  I had to work everyday during the summer season from 4 pm until 8 pm.  All the new lifeguards had to work this shift and you were not granted days off or vacation weeks if your family was going away.  Being only fourteen, I did not have a driver's license and my parents were not willing to commit to such a relentless chauffeur schedule.  So my dream of financing yearlong riding lessons was postponed until the next summer when I would be fifteen and eligible for more opportunities.

I was disappointed, but not ready to give up.  A year later, I would have my success.

To be continued...

Part 3


  1. Love this...sounds a lot like my story in many ways:)

  2. Hi Mare,
    That is why I really like this venue. The best way to hold on to memories is to share them, and who better to share them with than other horse folks. :)

  3. Love the story (but hate the cliffhanging)!! ;)

  4. What we did to get in a ride! I think all of us horse crazy girls would have probably shaved our heads had that solved the problem of no horse/no money!


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