I just got back from a 2,200-mile round-trip drive to see my new grandson. I figured it was my job to make sure the toy horses outnumbered all the other stuffed animals in his crib, and to give him his first lessons on the ol' rocking horse that entertained my daughter when she was little. Anyone remember the scene in "Gone With The Wind," where Rhett Butler goes on and on about his baby's inborn riding ability as he's pushing her down the street in a carriage? I'm sure I was pretty close to being that ridiculous about looking at an infant and imagining a future horse lover.
As role models go, I had a powerful one where horsey grandparents are concerned. Both my grandfathers were born and raised at the tail end of the horse-and-buggy era, and one, whose name was Francis Smith, was obsessed with horses until the day he died. Along with raising them, farming with them, showing them, trading them, etc., he also indulged us grandkids with ponies, horsey coloring books, model horses, trips to horse shows, and long summer stayovers at his farm, where everything was horse-horse-horse, virtually all the time. He subscribed to the first horse magazines I ever read, and just about burst the snaps off the front of his Bibb overalls when I landed a post-college job with one of them. To this day, I have a fascination with collecting paint-by-number horse pictures, largely because such pictures hung in the living room of his house as I was growing up.
One of the sad things about losing Najah, our Arabian who passed away a couple of weeks ago, is that he was the ideal grandkid horse--small, safe, incredibly kind, beautifully trained, and 100-percent trustworthy. He'll be hard to replace for that task, especially since every other horse-loving grandparent in America is out looking for the same kind of horse he was.
Of course, it's entirely possible that my grandson will be indifferent to horses as he grows older, with other interests of his own. But until those interests surface, I'll get to indulge the notion that it's only a matter of time before he wants to come and stay at Grandma's house, where everything is horse-horse-horse, virtually all the time.