Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)
TITLE: When Dreams Come True
By Emily Gibson
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We had a small shed, not a real barn, and no fences, and though I was earning money as best I could picking berries and babysitting, I was only part way to the $150 it would take to buy a trained horse. So I dreamed horse dreams~~golden horses with long white manes~~hoping for the day it would become real for me if only I worked hard enough.
When a local radio station's Saturday morning horse news program announced their "Win a Horse" contest for youth under 17, I knew I had to try to write the 250 word essay on "Why I Should Have a Horse". I carefully crafted the right words to express my hopes and dreams, putting all my heart into it, hoping the judges would see me as a worthy potential owner.
My family took me to visit the prize colt, a fuzzy engaging little bay fellow who was getting plenty of attention from all the children coming to visit him, and that visit made me even more determined. I mailed in my essay and waited.
The night before November 27, 1965 I didn’t sleep a wink. I got up early to listen to the horse program always featured on the radio at 8 AM on Saturday mornings. They said they had over 300 essays to choose from, and it was very difficult for them to decide who the colt should go to. I knew then I didn't have a chance. They had several consolation prizes for 2nd through 4th place, and as they read those essays, all written by teenagers, my heart was sinking by the minute.
As they started to read the winning essay, the first sentence sounded very familiar to me, but it wasn't until several sentences later that I realized they were reading my essay, not someone else's. I leaped and shouted and woke up my whole family, including my dad, who opened one sleepy eye, looked at me, and said, "I guess this means I better get a fence up today, right?"
That little bay colt came home to live with me the next day. Over the next few months he and I learned together, as I checked out horse training books from the library, and tried every different technique. By the time he was two, I was sitting on him, and by age three, I had earned enough to buy a saddle and was riding him on my own. Though he was not my dreams’ golden-colored horse, I loved every inch of him. We were best buddies and it was heart breaking to find him a new owner as I left for college far away from home.
Even in the city, my horse dreams persisted as I spent hours in bookstores poring over horse books and learning about various breeds. I knew I'd had my one special "gift" by winning my first horse, so the next horse I would have to earn on my own. I worked long hours, nights and holidays, earning what I could to eventually move from the city and own some land for a future horse and a future family. And along the way, I found a farm boy also "stuck" in the city and together we worked on building our dream.
We bought our farm a full two years before we actually could afford to leave our city jobs behind to move there. In the meantime, I had opened a picture book in one of my bookstore visits, and there were my golden dream horses, running wild through green mountain meadows, their white manes and tails streaming out behind them. Within a month of our moving to the farm, on November 27, 1985, the first of many Haflingers joined us.
Twenty years separated my first horse from my second and over two more decades dozens of golden foals have been born here. As I cleaned the barn this morning, I marveled at the privilege it is to raise these beautiful horses who own us heart and soul. With work and dedication, dreams really can come true.
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