It was a Christmas morning at age 7, and I had just unwrapped a beautiful dollhouse that came up to my shoulders. Powder blue and Victorian style, complete with the elegant dark-colored mini furnishings and the promise of many more wondrous accessories to come. My parents then presented me with the choice of keeping this little girl’s dream-come-true as my Christmas present, or attending a two-week horse camp instead. I was faced with the most important decision yet in my life, though I didn’t know it. After a few moments of inner debate, I was certain. I wanted the present I hadn’t even seen yet. I wanted the horses. In those critical few minutes, I made one of the most significant decisions I would ever make.
A few days later I was outfitted in my jeans and cheap black boots, sitting on a plastic bench inside a barn-turned-classroom. It was the first day of horse camp, and we were being given rules, safety instructions, and general horse knowledge. I was excited, but more interested in the other children around me than in the horses I was about to experience. Little did I know my first equine love was only an hour or so in the future.
We received our horses’ names, and the eager thirteen-year-old volunteers took us out to the stable to meet our mounts. My horse was Glo.
“Glo,” I thought. “What a strange name.” When I saw how it was spelled on his nameplate, I thought it was even stranger. “Why no ‘w’?” I wondered.
I peered into Glo’s stall and was met with the deepest darkest pools for eyes I had ever seen. My seven-year-old heart melted, and I fell in love right then and there with what still seemed to me like a really huge dog.
He was gentle, slow, and wise. I soon learned what his coloring was called, another name I thought was odd. Glo was a flea-bitten grey, but I knew he was beautiful in spite of the title. He was very tall to me then, but in retrospect I wonder how tall he actually was. His mane and tail were long, and his face had the relaxed, droopy look that older horses get.
Glo never scared me, even though he outweighed me by nearly 1,000 pounds. He was just that careful around his young keepers. I loved his sweet and salty smell, the soft feel of his hair, the scratchy whiskers on his nose, his long white eyelashes. I learned how to curry the mud off his body, how to pick his hooves, how to brush his tangled mane and tail out without causing him discomfort. I felt attached to him, linked somehow. It was like my little hopeful heart could communicate with his big slow sweet one, without needing words. I trusted him completely.
He gave me my first real rides, and taught me that you can communicate more effectively without using words at all. He taught me how to listen because of how well he listened. He taught me how to look out for those who don’t know better, because he looked out for me when I didn’t know better. He taught me what it feels like to love something that didn’t really need me at all.
Glo gave me my first taste of what a relationship with a horse could be like. Pure magic, unlike anything else in the world. An instant connection with another living creature that is greater than yourself and lesser than yourself at the same time. I couldn’t put these feelings into words at the time, but I knew this horse thing was special. I was hooked. I can’t say enough about Glo because of how meaningful his introduction into my life has been. Thank you, Glo, for your gentle spirit.