I’ve been thinking (be scared) a lot about how much some people can have such a huge impact on our lives. This thought brought me back to a day that seems so long ago, but one that has always stuck with me. It was the day I stepped onto McMullan’s property for the first time.
I used to think of this day as only an insignificant childhood memory, but looking back on it now- I don’t see how it could be insignificant. Mom and I used to bike down our road, often to the railway tracks so i could find rocks to collect and keep forever and ever. As everyone knows, railway tracks are the BEST place for rock collecting. We lived on the same road as McMullans, and whenever we drove past their place I would stare wide-eyed in wonder at the pretty horse place- and ask if we could go see them. Them being the pretty horses of course. I must have been 5 or 6, very young anyway, before I had begun riding. But back to the rocks..
I can remember this day like it was yesterday. The sun was bright, and it must have been late summer because I remember the dust every time a car rushed past. Along our way down Verley Road, I spotted a riding crop on the side of the road. This short stick fascinated me, and I can remember picking it up and never wanting to let it go. We decided to take it to the horse farm at the end of the road to see if somebody from there had dropped it while riding. I was finally getting to go to the horse place!! I’m pretty sure I asked Mom at least 10 times if I could ride a horse. She, of course, couldn’t give me a definite answer. Nevertheless, maybe I would get to see a horse. We approached the house and I vividly remember a large bumble bee buzzing behind the screen on their door, and gripping the crop tight in my hand. I also remember the old fashioned knocker on the door. I was a very shy kid, so when the door was answered by Charlene- I definitely didn’t say a thing. I just held up the corp to hand to her, and thought hopefully that maybe, just maybe, I’d get to ride a horse in reward for finding and returning this stick. Or maybe they’d let me keep it! No such luck. Only a kind smile and a thank-you. Isn’t it funny how some things stick with us?
I remember being told that only much older girls rode there. It would be many, many years before I went to McMullan’s Stable again. But I never stopped staring in from the road at the front paddocks lined with white fencing, and the jumps set up in the field during the summer. All those years driving past, wondering what it was like to be one of the “older” girls who got to ride in there. Who would’ve guessed that I would become one of those lucky few. I loved that place before I even knew the people who owned it would become some of the most important people in my life. Certainly two people I hold a great deal of respect for.
I don’t think I’ll ever lose my awe and wonder for the people who ride there, and especially not for Charlene and Mike. I always feel my best when riding in that arena. A certain atmosphere surrounds the stable, that I haven’t found in many other places. And now, even half a world away, I can close my eyes and be there. Smell the dirt of the arena, hear the wind blowing against the doors, see the faces of my two beloved coaches, and feel the rhythm of my horse- like a heartbeat. I can’t help but smile every single time.