I was a horse lover ever since I could walk, and I have no idea why.
My family weren't horsey people, but they moved to the rural town of Yarramundi about the time I was born in 1982. Shortly after moving onto the two acre property they were given "Trigger", an allegedly crazy pinto pony.
Trigger hated men, and would take great pleasure in finding new ways of throwing off my father, brothers and uncles into brick walls and thorny bushes, but could be ridden by my older sisters in nothing more than a headstall.
My uncle on Trigger (Left) and my sister Janelle on Trigger (Right)
I was too young to ever remember Trigger as he died when I was still a baby, so I don't think that is where my love of horses came from. Personally, I think people are just born with the love in their blood. It's like being talented musician, you can have lessons and be "good" at playing an instrument, but only some people are actually born with the passion that drives them to becoming a great musician.
When I was about three or four years old, my grandfather, Pa, made me a hobby horse and for years I treated it like a real horse. "Ned" had a little yard beside Dad's tool shed, and I picked grass for him and always made sure he had a bucket of water. I have no idea how I even knew this much of horse care.
Finally, having treated Ned like a real horse for so long and having proved my obsession, Dad decided to buy me a real pony for my sixth birthday in 1988. He just wanted something small, old and cheap. Something that would satisfy my love for horses until the novelty wore off. He thought that wanting a pony was every little girl's dream and that it might last a year or two at the most until I lost interest.
I remember the day we went to look at a pony. The people had a fair few little ponies and there was a brown and white pinto mare there that really caught my attention, and I begged Dad to let me have her. I was told that she was "too big" for me, and besides, Dad was there to look at another pony, a hairy, boring coloured bay mare. I was very disappointed at first, but that was forgotten as soon as I was put on her back and led around the yard.
That pony was Kitty.
A few days later I came home from school to find that Kitty had been delivered to our place, and had already proved herself as a mischievous little pony, as my parents hadn't been able to keep her in the paddock! She was so small, she was slipping between the wires of the fences that had once held Trigger in easily!
Kitty with me, not long after we got her (1988)
Much to Dad's disappointment, the novelty of a pony didn't wear off as quickly as he hoped, and he starting to look forward to my teenage years when he was certain I'd discover boys and lose interest. Again, he was wrong. I made friends with other horselovers, and the obsession only got worse.
Not having any family members that could fulfill my quest for horse knowledge, I spent most of my childhood and teenage years learning everything I could about horses from reading books. I still have my massive horse book collection today, and still reference them all the time.
Me riding Kitty (~1991)
In about 1994, a lady named Colleen moved in next door who was also a horselover and owned a beautiful big appaloosa named Comanche. Colleen became my best friend and I would visit her every day after school. She taught me things about horses, gave me riding lessons on Comanche and helped me look after Kitty better. Colleen and I made Kitty's very first horse rug, which was made from a hessian bag.
Me and Kitty wearing the rug I made (~1995)
Come 1997, I convinced Dad to let me enter Kitty in the Hawkesbury Show. It was the first time Kitty had left the property in almost 10 years, and it was my first ever show, so even though we were only eligible for one led class (by that age I was too tall to ride her), it is one of my best memories. The night before the show it poured down rain, so one of my neighbours who bred racehorses let me put Kitty in his stable for the night. Colleen helped me braid her mane and tail, Dad hired a float and Kitty was entered in the open pony mare under 12hh class, but unfortunately we didn't place at all.
Kitty, me, Dad and sister Maureen at Hawkesbury Show (1997)
In 1998 my best friend gave me her horse, Hobo, which according to Dad was supposed to be on a "temporary basis only". After that, Kitty sort of got pushed aside a bit because I began learning even more new and exciting things with Hobo, as I finally had a horse big enough to ride again.
In 2001 I got a Thoroughbred mare, Sparky. Then once I got a job and moved out of home and Dad was no longer supporting my hobby, I got Thoroughbred gelding, Barney, in 2004. Meanwhile, Kitty was still with me everywhere I went.
Kitty and me at a regional hack show (2005)
Sadly Hobo died in January 2006, and although Barney was a great horse, he was far from filling Hobo's place. Kitty and Hobo had been best mates, and totally inseparable. Needless to say, she fretted badly when he died. It didn't help that she hated Barney because he continually bullied her. After Hobo's death I bought horse after horse trying to find a new best friend for Kitty and myself, but no horse could fill the void.
No longer having a horse I enjoyed riding as much as I did Hobo, I started losing my keenness for riding. I decided to turn back to the one pony who had been with me through it all, and who was so predictable but could still surprise me at the same time, Kitty. I had always wanted to breed her, and even as a kid I had spent endless afternoons trying to lure Kitty towards the weak sections of the back fence so that she could "accidentally" get in with the Shetland colt next door! She did get in there a couple of times, and so I was convinced she was in foal, so secretly I waited for her to give birth. I think I must have waited at least two years before finally giving up hope!
By the time I was actually in a position to really breed her (~2006), she was far too old. I decided I wanted to get another Mini pony, and so mid 2006 I bought broodmare Bella and weanling Storm (coincidently enough on the same weekend but from two different people). Bella was in foal, and Storm was going be my breeding stallion when he was old enough. It was sort of an instant, unplanned stud. I had always dreamed of having my own Miniature stud, inspired by Kitty, but I didn't think it would happen for another 20 years or so!
Having been bitten by the "Miniature" bug all those years ago as a child, the new ponies only sparked the flame again! It's true what they say about Miniatures being addictive and not being able to stop at one, because even though I already had far more horses than I was allowed to have (according to boyfriend, landlord and finances!), I then went on to rescue an abused stallion at the end of 2006 and impulse buy another broodmare with filly foal at foot at the beginning of 2007.
Kitty a month before her death (May 2007)
Dad can't believe I still love horses, and I like to jokingly blame him for my obsession, because who knows, maybe the novelty would have worn off quicker if he never bought me that immortal pony Kitty!
But I don't think so...
Unfortunately old age eventually caught up with Kitty and she passed away on 3rd June 2007 at the approximate age of 29.