When I was six years old, my parents were partial owners of two harness race horses. We would go to The Meadows racetrack and visit the horses in the stables and feed them carrots, sugar cubes, and sliced apples. I remember my younger brother, Joe, who was about 4, would wear his cowboy hat. Totally appropriate time and place for a cowboy hat. Then we would go up to the owner’s box and watch the races. I loved it. HORSES!
I began putting posters of horses on my walls. Brown mares in green fields with knobby kneed foals at their sides. When I was a Girl Scout, my mom drove me north to Camp Redwing for horse camp. My assigned horse was a sassy Appaloosa named “Ruby.” She was gentle and mostly listened to my eight-year-old tugs at the reins. I don’t remember much about the camp except for girls telling ghost stories around the campfire, s’mores, and all the time I got to spend riding around on Ruby.
Fast forward about ten years, I begin college at Florida State University. My four years in college were a blur for many reasons, like I was studying so hard, unlocking my inner self, learning how to be an adult, and studying. And stuff. Anyway, my first FSU football game, I had incredible seats in the first row, I had my war paint on and was surrounded by thousands of my fellow students roaring and chanting and chopping. The Marching Chiefs started playing and then it happened: our mascot, Chief Osceola came riding out full gallop in his Seminole costume, with a burning spear in his hand. In the middle of the field the horse reared on hind legs and he threw the spear in the middle of the field. It was incredible. A. Burning. Spear.
And the horse that ran him into the middle of the stadium like the devil was on his tail? A sassy Appaloosa named Renegade. I guess what I’m trying to say is, Appaloosa are recurring theme in my life and I’m glad for it.