So, I've taken some time to give props to my maternal side of my family -- actually, I'm pretty sure I mention my mom in nearly every post. I've also given my dad a shout out for all he's done.
Yesterday morning, as I smelled the sent of bacon drifting into my bedroom, I was reminded I really haven't mentioned anything about the man who quite possibly is my biggest supporter and largest influence in what kind of rider I've become... my grandpa Tom.
Now first of all I'll clear a couple things up... Yes, John was making breakfast for us to eat together -- and I helped (said in the way of the shake-and-bake girl from the 90's). And secondly, yes, I know that it's Mother's Day week, but I figured since I talk about her so much that she'd be ok with a shout out to my grandpa.
Anyway... Grandpa Tom is actually my step-grandfather, but you'd never in a million years guess that. Him and my dad actually even look alike, even though they're not blood-related. When I was very young, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents house due to my mom's back surgery, and as the first grandchild, grandpa spoiled me right! He loves to tell the story about how I had to sit on every horse in the barn, every time we went to feed. I also had to lead the horses around (even though I was probably on 2 or 3 at the time) and was quite adamant (i.e. a brat) about doing it "by. my. self."
As I grew up, and more grandchildren were born, my grandpa still tended to spoil me pretty much rotten. I bought my very first pony from him with my bag full of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters -- savvy horse buyer, even at the ripe old age of 4.
I also 'took' my second horse from him. At the time, I was 8 years old and leasing a lovely young quarter horse mare. I was on my way home from a horse show in Springfield, IL and we stopped in to Grandma's and Grandpa's for the night and I sat on about 3 horses, riding them up and down the dirt road with horses running on one side and 6 foot corn blowing on the other. I thought 'Robbie' was the prettiest horse I'd ever seen and even though he was only half my age (4), I HAD to have him -- so in the trailer he went, with the agreement that I would ride him and then we'd sell him and split the profit. I really can't understand what my parents were thinking letting their 8 year old daughter get an unbroke 4 year old but I learned a lot, and two years later I got his papers in the mail, with the owner signed over to my name. The note simply said something like "I don't believe this is my horse anymore." I rode that pony for 8 years before selling him to another young rider.
I wasn't just equine spoiled by grandpa. As a teenager, I could be staying with them and sleep until 10, waking up to the smell of pancakes and bacon (even though everyone else had eaten several hours earlier). He'd make some comment about a growing girl needing to eat, and I'd happily take my pancakes.
One of the problems was that my grandpa has always thought I could ride anything (hence letting his 8 year old grand daughter get on an unbroke 4 year old in the first place). I clearly remember landing on my rear on at least one occasion due to this (random horse he pulled out of the barn turned out to be the wrong one of the pair - I think I've failed to mention up until now that my grandfather was involved with driving horses). I admit though, it's always nice to have someone have that much faith in me!!
My grandpa has since sold all his horses to live the retired life, and I definitely don't get to visit him as much as I'd like to. When I call him, he still has such faith that I can do anything I put my mind to (probably because I was such a brat when I was younger). I guess there's just something about that unconditional positivity that makes me hope that I continue to make him proud!
Love you grandpa Tom!
Clockwise from top left: Me sitting on my parents Morgan, who I'm sure was connected to my grandpa somehow; Me and Dusty, my nickel and dime pony; my friend Meghan on her Arab Dragon, and me on my Morgan, Robbie, the 'unbroke 4 year old', doing a costume class as vaulters; Robbie and I warming up at the 'Cookie Classic'; me sitting on 'Cassidy's Lad'. My mom is holding me and my grandpa' arm is on the left hand side of the picture -- see he even named horses after me!