The old pony club days

Some of my best memories are of Pony Club at Buckley’s in the ’70s. There weren’t a lot of us English riders in this ranching area- but the few of us who were rode together and had a blast. It was in the days when safety was less of an issue so the fact we are all still alive is kind of a miracle.

Seriously though, I have found the strength to get through some of the most difficult times of my life by pulling strength from those old Pony Club days. They also are filled not only with memories of terror and walking through fear, but of laughter and friendship and fun.

We had to get an assessment of the house done for probate and a lady who said she was familiar with the area came out to do it for us. As I was showing her the house she said she used to do Pony Club at Buckley’s which made us both stop and stare at each other. Because we had to have ridden together.

Turns out I rode with her younger sister. The first year (when we were about 5) she and I and one other girl slept in the grain bins at camp. My aunt had to take us in and bathe us and give us special food because she felt for us being so little out there. It still is one of my favorite memories.

I love how connected we are. She looked at an old photo of my sister on her Shetland and said oh Peanuts- I remember her. It’s amazing how many of my people know Peanuts from her previous owners. I mean this was like 40 years ago. Peanuts left an impression.

I had such a happy soul feeling – out tribe stretches through time

Here’s 9 year old me on the hill at Buckley’s at the D Rally. Good times.


In the heart where the memories are

When I was a kid, Pony Club wasn’t for the faint of heart. You can tell just by the “high quality” of the trailers in the background of my photo that we were all a little more rough and tumble back then. I think that’s part of why those years were some of the best of my life. They weren’t always fun (sometimes they were downright terrifying), but they absolutely shaped me into the person that I am now.

I tended to be more timid as a child (a trait I still am working on to this day) and when the other kids were excited to race their ponies over the biggest and scariest jumps I was always at the back of the pack hoping something would happen so I wouldn’t have to do it. And yet, always so happy when I did.

Part of the reason for being afraid was that I was younger than a lot of the other kids, part of it was just my nature. However, those big kids seemed to follow the rule “leave no man behind ” (or blubbering child as the case may be) and there was no way I was going to be able to bypass any of the jumps out on the cross country course.

I remember sitting on my pony Snowflake, crying my eyes out because I was so scared, and my cousin (in the photo with me) racing by on her horse yelling to stop being such a coward and to get in and join them. Then, the next girl tearing by, whose last name was Coward yelling that they’d better find a better name to call me since she was going over the jump. Not wanting to look like a total wimp, and not wanting to get left behind I sucked up all the courage I had and raced after them. And of course, ended up having the time of my life.

Being able to find courage when facing a terrifying situation is something that has helped me immensely in my adult life. Not turning away from something I wanted to do, or being afraid to join the fun was also an important life lesson I learned.

I remember watching her flying around the cross country course, smiling from ear to ear, hanging on for dear life aboard her horse Monkey (well named considering how they were together) and knowing that soon my turn was coming. Just about everything I know about having to dig deep and then soar I learned with this girl out in these fields.  

You just never know where your path is going to take you in life, or how chapters are going to be written in your book. This incredibly strong, funny, amazing, brave, fierce woman has had most of her memories stolen from her by one of those cruel twists of fate. It’s horrible at any age, but she is just too young and too full of life.

I went to visit her today, for the first time in about a year and a half. I was touched to the core of my being that she remembered who I was, and thrilled that there is still some of her old spunk shining through her eyes. That spunk that propelled me through much of my childhood.

These memories are precious. They are ones that I will carry in my heart for the rest of my life.

My aunt picked me up to go in to town and visit my cousin (well really she’s a second cousin, and my mom and her dad are first cousins – but it’s all the same to me) I was touched that she would bring me in.  I’m sure a lot of it was to make sure I wasn’t uncomfortable and that the visit went smoothly. We ended up having a wonderful visit. I also hadn’t seen her in a year and a half, and it had been many years gone by before that. We visited a little about old times, but mostly it was about things now – family, life in general, some about my cousin.  We did a lot of laughing. Full out, head back, laughing. That was my happiness moment for the day, new memories and old memories all being stored in the heart.


Family Christmas Party

Today there was a family Christmas party hosted by my Great Aunt and her daughters. She’s the same Great Aunt who holds the annual family Canada Day Party, and these events are so important for us all as times to get together and visit and laugh and share.

I consider myself lucky because I come from a family that has mostly stayed in the same area since my great grandfather and his two brothers came out here in the 1880s to ranch. I think in many ways before we moved away,  I took for granted the strong community bond that we have out here because it was all I knew. It wasn’t until we started moving that I realized how many people are floating around out there without their tribe. I am so happy to be back in mine.

My happiness moment today was a long chat with an old favourite uncle. When I was a kid they used to hold Pony Club at their place – in fact they were known in the area for throwing the best “D” Rally and that was something we all looked forward to. I have memories of being somewhere around 5 or 6 and spending the week there sleeping in a silo at camp, and lots of memories of racing our horses around the cross country course.

In times when I need to dig deep and find some bravery, I think of my times there how they taught me to find that inner strength. Some of it was just out of sheer terror and not wanting to look like a big chicken, but that was only because I looked up to them all so much and  I wanted to be able to keep up with everyone.

When I was 9, I had a rotten (but really cool) horse named Snowflake whom I loved deeply but who had a terrible habit of rearing up when she was nervous. Uncle Harvey was the timekeeper that year and as he looked at me and said “one minute”, Snowflake reared up and I slid right off her bum and landed feet first on the ground. I walked around to her side, someone gave me a leg up, and without missing a beat Uncle Harvey started the countdown 10, 9, 8, 7…. and I was off on the course. I look back at that moment as a really special one in my life, he gave me wings to soar.  First of all, there was a very strict no helping the rider rule – so the fact that I was given a leg up showed that they were quietly supporting me. She was tall and I was small and I used to have to jump up, dig my knee into the stirrup and then climb my way up into the saddle. The fact that my uncle didn’t make a big deal out of what had happened meant that I also didn’t make a big deal out of it.  We ended up not only having a perfectly clear round, but coming in first in every class that day. It was one of my best days as a kid.

It was so lovely to be able to have a long chat with him today. I got to hear all about his family and how they’re doing and just chew the fat a little bit. Even though he doesn’t live that far away, I don’t see him all that often (last time was at the Canada Day Party) so it was a real treat. These family parties are so important for all of us. We need to remember that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Another happiness moment (aside from the general joy in seeing family/neighbours) was seeing smiles on older relatives when they learned that we are living in the old house. Everyone has memories of coming to the old house and visiting, or sometimes living here. One uncle (the twin of my happiness moment uncle) said that his first real bath was taken in the footed tub in our bathroom here. I love that we are living in a home that has so many memories for all of our relatives. It’s a great way of feeling bonded and grounded.