Little Miss Sunshine
My mom grew up with horses, but the only remnants of that life were a few old pictures and a lonely western saddle in our garage. Most of my friends had asked for a pony at one point in their lives, so I assumed I would be forever-waiting for that pony with them. I was about six years old, but still recognized that a pony in our backyard in a suburban neighborhood was a little far-fetched. My sister and I would beg for quarters to ride the mini carousel outside of our local grocery store and my mom would talk about having horses again one day. I was completely unaware of the fact that my parents were looking for land and preparing for a move to the country.
I still remember driving away from our house, too worried about missing my friends to realize this big change would make all the pony promises possible. We were barely settled into our little hobby farm and my mom had already found a pony for us. Sunny was a little black and white Shetland pony who had foundered and was looking for a low-key home now that her show career was done. I’m not sure how we got her home because we didn’t own a trailer at the time. It’s very likely she was an impulse buy, because I remember holding her in the yard while my dad rushed to finish the fence. To my then six-year-old self, this was normal. I now chuckle at the fact that my mom must have brought this pony home so fast that the only “pasture” my dad had time to create was made from an electric wire strung around four stakes. By some miracle she didn’t run away, and soon they got to work and ran woven wire and white, vinyl fencing to enclose our 22 acres.
Sunny was the ultimate babysitter. I remember her being cranky the a lot of the time, which was reasonable and expected considering she put up with a lot. My mom frequently asked us to brush her off and wait for to her come saddle for us. She was usually in the middle of something, but we had been begging to ride all day. Being impatient kids, we would somehow manage to tack her up even though we had absolutely no idea what we were doing. We would ride back and forth on the fence line, again and again, trying to go as fast as possible (a very average-paced trot with MAYBE a few lope strides if she was really feeling spicy) and we were convinced she was Seabiscuit. I’d like to believe we made up for a lot of the little things in treats and love.
By some act of God, despite the crazy situations we put her in, Sunny babysat us while teaching us to ride and love horses. That little ball of sass was the start of a childhood full of horse adventures that led to competitive showing and a lifelong hobby. Every little girl dreams of getting a pony one day, but I was fortunate enough to have that dream become a reality. Even if it’s unlikely a pony will pop up in your backyard sometime soon, don’t be afraid to explore this amazing sport that has brought me so much joy, excitement and mental clarity throughout my life. Also, a special shoutout to a tiny little pony who didn’t let me fall off too manytimes and has definitely earned her spot in the green pastures in the sky.
Pictured Above: Little Miss Sunshine “Sunny” 1997
"Life is wonderful on the Ranch, come join us."