For complete context about why I’m not having a birthday party for my 27th birthday this year and how you can still celebrate with me, read You’re Invited to My 27th Birthday Bash.
On the most recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy, the interns are put into a contest and the winner gets to perform a surgery. When talking about how she’s going to win, one of the interns April, who grew up on a ranch like me, puts it like this:
“When I was little, I wanted a pony too, and you know what happened…I, uh, worked really hard, and I got one.”
As a young child, I also won the pony lottery. When I was 4-years-old, my paternal grandpa died, and my grandma soon decided that she could no longer care for her pony Crisco. (Yes, my grandma named the pony after shortening.) I loved riding Crisco. It was by far my favorite thing to do at my grandparents’ house.
Around the same time, my parents purchased 20 undeveloped acres outside of Bend, Oregon. They put some cows on it and built a barn. Knowing my love of Crisco, they decided that a little girl needed a pony. So we loaded him up and took him home.
Crisco was a black Shetland Pony and as stubborn as hell. He hated men, and he hated to run. Crisco was fat and would literally eat anything in front of him to the point of foundering. My parents then moved him from the pasture with the cows to the natural high desert landscape. But Crisco loved sage brush, cheet grass, and Juniper trees just as much as grass. He foundered again. The only solution was to lock him in a corral and feed him a highly-monitored diet. (He even stripped the bark from the one tree in his pen.)
I wasn’t allowed to ride Crisco on my own. So anytime I rode him, it was a big ordeal that involved getting him bridled and being led around by an adult on my pony.
One fateful summer day, my parents decided to throw a barbecue at our newly built house and invited friends, neighbors, and my dad’s employees. They also decided, perhaps at my begging, that pony rides for all the kids (or just me) would be a blast. Now days, people put helmets on their children before hoisting them on the back of surly ponies. But not mine and not then. Besides, my pony loved me. Whatever could go wrong.
My dad thought it would be brilliant if he led me around on the pony. Crisco thought he was crazy, and I remember asking my dad if I could ride on my own. (I should note that around this same time, my parents had a friend who had horses and she would let me ride them by myself. So it’s not like I didn’t have some experience.) Dad was standing right there with me. The worst thing Crisco would do was walk a few feet and decide that dandelions were his drug of choice.
Crisco was a little grumpy as my dad took the reigns and lead us through the pasture. We were both pouting. But then dad thought, ha, let’s give fat old Crisco a workout with a good run! Maybe then he wouldn’t founder!
About 12 seconds later, I was on the ground, head-first. My mother and all our guests watching and horrified as I rolled onto the slightly rocky pasture. My head hurt; I was pissed off at my father; and I still wanted to ride my pony.
My mom took me back to the house to check me over for wounds. Since we didn’t go to the hospital, I’m thinking this was a bout of time when we didn’t have medical insurance — insurance companies just LOVE mommies with babies and small children — or just another example of my mother’s neglect when I actually hurt myself. (My mom once let me walk around on a stress fracture for two weeks, but took her dog and its sprained foot to the vet immediately.)
The party was ruined, and I wasn’t allowed to ride Crisco ever again. A few months later my mom gave him away to a trail-riding company or carnival. Which meant he either learned to hate going uphill or walked around in endless tiny circles for the rest of his life. Before being turned into glue that is.
As I grew up, all the girls started lusting after horses. Substituting them for the affections they would eventually have on their pubescent crushes. Instead, I rolled my eyes and continued to beg my mom to buy me Star Trek action figures. I’d already had a freaking pony. Which pretty much was awesome.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to GeekGirlCon, a convention focusing on geeky women. We may not have pony rides, but there will be tons of other fun activities like gaming, panels, vendors, and more.