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If wishes were horses

March 9th, 2004 · No Comments

Jorrit Wiersma describes how his daughter loves horses.

One thing about Silke that has me baffled is horses. Saskia and I sort of planned not to raise Silke as a girly girl (and how can you in these modern times?), and although she has dolls, and she wears dresses and stuff like that, at least one thing we weren’t planning to encourage was horses. For me, it’s one of those girl things that I have never, never, understood. In primary school I always loved to gross the girls out by telling them I had horse meat on my sandwiches (and it was even true sometimes; my parents didn’t have any qualms about eating horse meat) and claiming that donkeys are smarter than horses. Now I have a cute little daughter, and she seems to like… horses.

I mean, she’s only two years old, and I don’t think we encouraged this in any way. So where does this love for horses come from? Sure, we taught her what a horse is called, and she has some toy horses, but it’s just one type of animal among all the others. She can’t really be influenced by other girls yet, and we don’t show her a lot of cartoons with horses in them or anything. It’s as if it’s some genetic thing, I can’t really explain it in any other way. I’m hoping it will blow over because, next thing you know, we’ll have a subscription to a horse magazine, we’ll be trudging through the mud at the local stables, I’ll be cleaning up horse dung while she’s out riding, or, she’ll even start nagging that she wants to own a horse. Please no.

Oh no. She’s so young. Yet it’s already begun.

As a girl, I was not a horse fanatic. I didn’t collect a lot of statuettes or beg my mother to buy me a real one.

But I did like books. A favorite book – I can still see the cover in color – was Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. I imagined going out to the distant East Coast and visiting this island near Virginia where wild ponies ran. (If I was still a girl, I’d go crazy reading Misty’s life story on the web!)

My own girls, Abigail and Michaela, ages 5 and 3, like horses. More than I did. Already. I haven’t tried to encourage or discourage this behavior. I’ve let them make their own choices.

Living in a semi-rural community with farms scattered about the island provides many opportunities for the girls to glimpse these equine creatures. It gives them ideas. Riding is a big activity for Bainbridge girls. Some do have their own horse.

We won’t be buying any horses. Our lot would barely support a bunny. But I have been buying little statuettes. Not of my own volition. When I took the girls once to the toy store to buy them a treat, they selected small horses, with brown velveteen and silky black hair. I find them now around the house, hanging onto shelves with their nimble hooves. They are cute, these plastic ponies. And fun to pet. I understand why they are so enticing to my daughters.

In August, they even got to ride a pony at the county fair. They kept the stickers from the event long after they stopped sticking. They talked about it for days. When I posted about it, I wrote 13 things I learned at the county fair : 1. Abigail likes horses.

And the girls have discovered their own favorite horse books too. Until today, when we took it back to the library, I had probably read The White Stallion by Elizabeth Shub once a day on average. Some days three times. I tolerated it because it was historical, a true story and had a symbolic analogy. The girls loved it because it had horses.

So Abigail and Michaela aren’t horse fanatics yet. They still like elephants and frogs as much as ponies. But they’re young. There’s still time.

If wishes were horses, girls would ride.

Tags: family