When I was a little girl, there was always some talk about how my grandfather "had horses" when my Dad was a kid. Well actually, there was much more to it, but it was enough that it got my attention. Thanks to my brother, at the age of fourteen I became acquainted with horses myself, and I was immediately hooked. Not hooked as in pony club hooked. Unlike my brother, who begged for a horse and insisted we could tie it to the back fence, I had grander plans. I spent my entire adult life volunteering at trail riding farms, taking riding lessons, haunting the draft horse barns at agricultural fairs, and learning everything I could get my hands on. Because I KNEW I was destined to have horses. I even did a ride along with a country vet.
But alas, life intervenes. "Having horses" never took a concrete commercial shape, So I had to earn a living. Thanks to my mother, who has more than a streak of feminism (save that for another day), I first took a Business Administration degree from the University of New Brunswick, and eventually worked my way through a Certified Management Accounting Designation.
As an accountant, you are trained to believe that YOU will set the pace. You will tell others how the books should look and what needs to be done. The manager/owner/ceo has protection against you committing fraud because you go on vacation and he can have someone else check what you've done, You can be audited! And furthermore you produce working papers each month which show your calculations and prove your work. It was the perfect career for me - no confrontation.
In thirty years with an adding machine, I lost count of the number of times I was told that I had to learn to do as I was told. How many times I was accused of "not having the best interests of the company at heart" because I wouldn't hide, something, write something off, do some inventive accounting. And the charming ones were the worst.
I loved my accounting career. I met so many people over the years, had some wonderful people work for me and treat me with respect. And hey, I got to wear great clothes and amassed a shoe collection that leaves male friends speechless (chicks get it). ;-)
Three and half years ago, my sister-in-law died of cancer. Her death left my mother-in-law alone, as they had shared a home. And so my mother-in-law became part of our nuclear family. There was no way we could all live in our suburban semi-detached town home, as she could not make the stairs, and the design precluded her having a private space of her own. And so the discussion began: what kind of home could we all share?
It was my husband's idea to look for a a hobby farm, with the promise that my vague intention to "have horses" could be fulfilled. What, like I was going to say no? Pigs might have flown.
Duke and Suzy Q were a bit of an accident. I was looking for drafts or draft crosses because my husband and I are both tall, substantial people, and it has been a lot of years since I was at my modelling weight y'all. And it just so happened that not only could this gorgeous pair be ridden - they were an experienced, proven team. The first time I held the reins I was hooked. I had to find a way to do this all the time.
The spring of 2015 was my time. I finished a contract and dove in. I had a business plan, I could buy a carriage. I could buy more horses. In the end, Duke and I went on the road.
There is more to the story about my grandfather, and about his whole family really Our male progenitor arrived in Canada with the woman who lived for more than forty years as his wife. Their love affair had sufficiently annoyed the powers that be in Ireland that he "had" to leave, and she accompanied him. In Canada they raised six children on a farm that existed on what is now CFB Gagetown land. I supposed my step-son wallowed in what was once his great-great-great grandfather's pig sty. Regardless, James (aforementioned progenitor) supplemented the farm income working as a teamster, specifically, driving the stage between Fredericton and Woodstock, New Brunswick. My great grandfather was "in drayage", meaning that every day he went to the train station in Fredericton and waited for big loads to come in on the train, loads of everything from coffins to Alum were picked up by him and taken to their final destination. My grandfather and his brother did the same through all their adult lives, only relinquishing horses entirely when they felt the animals were no longer safe on city streets,
My family in Ireland were known to have a "way" with horses, and they bought and sold, shod and doctored them. In Ireland during penal times, and long after penal times, Catholics were strongly discouraged from having horses - horses would have allowed a mounted revolt by the disenfranchised and impoverished Catholics But my family always had horses. When my grandfather died at ninety, his second last words were to his dead brother - "I see you, I'm coming", but his last were "They never took our horses".
Now obviously any person enjoys genetic inheritance from two sources. My mother and her lot are a force to be reckoned with and they have instilled me with strength and independence not to be sneezed at. And of course her family had horses too as they were a necessity of life, a necessity that built this country. But this guttural need to be with them, touch them, talk to them, and to have them talk back, that could only come from the little men from Northern Ireland.
When I touch the reins, those people work through my hands. Duke recognizes me in ways I never expected him to. It's a magic relationship, one I feed on every day whether we are working or not.