Monday, May 21, 2012


Thinking about the 'good old days' reminds me how much my life has changed. From the age of five, I was obsessed with horses. Steiff, Breyer and ceramic horses filled my bedroom. A pony was always first on the Christmas list. Fortunately, my father also liked horses, so by the age of eight, when we moved to a house that had a small lot, I had my first pony, Ted.

I have never been without a horse since then. I fox hunted, showed hunt seat, competed in low-level dressage, raised two foals, belonged to a trail riding club, broke and trained several horses and wrote over thirty-five horse books (fiction.) Through college, graduate school, marriage, several careers and moves, and two children, I managed to keep horses--and the barns/land they require--in my life.

Today my obsession has cooled to a quiet love. Relish and I don't do anything spectacular to write about on Equestrian Ink. We amble about the pastures and hay fields, schooling occasionally (so neither of us forgets what leg aids are for) and rarely going faster than a trot. Horse care is pared to the basics, yet both Relish and his chubby pasture mate Belle are glossy and healthy.  So now, not having horses as the focus of my days suits me just fine.

What has also changed is my obsession for writing horse books.  It's just gone. I am under contract for two books for Peachtree Publishers, but both are about dogs, and I will not be sad if I never write another book about horses. Why this huge change? I have no idea.  It's not that I am empty of ideas--I just am not interested in turning them into queries, proposals and first drafts.  This is a giant life switch for me, and it took some analyzing, deep thinking, depression and time for me to accept this change

That doesn't mean horses don't loom large in my life. Lately, I have been having fun with my horse obsession in a different way. In my thrifting and antiquing I am once again in touch with the ceramic and Breyer horses from my past.  Finding a vintage Napcoware or Robert Simmons' ceramic horse at an auction or flea market gives me goosebumps. Especially if there are no broken legs or chipped ears! And yesterday, I found three Breyers from the 1970s in the original boxes at an antique fair. The guy wouldn't deal, but as I went from booth to booth, I could not get them out of my mind. I had never seen ones in the old boxes and after borrowing money from my sister, I went back and bought all three: Man O' War, Silky Sullivan (another race horse), and my favorite, Western Pony.

The details on each horse are incredible, which is why Breyers are so collectible today.  But the weird thing is, these will not sit on my shelf to be admired. I will sell them in my booth or on Ebay. I know, I know. How can I?  Because a big part of my new passion is the "hunt." I love and appreciate each Breyer or ceramic horse that I "discover" and enjoy researching them to find their age and value, but I am then happy to find them good homes with horse lovers who are obsessed with adding them to their collections.

Equestrian Ink is for people who are passionate about horses in many different ways. What big changes have you dealt with surrounding your love of horses, and how have you handled those changes?


Laura Crum said...

What a great post, Alison. I am still passionate about horses, but my passion has definitely changed over the years. In my twenties and thirties I lived to train and compete. Now, in my fifties, I am absolutely content with casual trail rides. But my horses are still a very big part of my life--I can't imagine a time when walking down to my barn to feed in the morning and evening (and at noon, too--I spoil them) isn't one of the main features of my day. Like you, I have kept my horses with me for many years, and I hope always to do so. But I haven't (yet) recaptured my childhood passion for ceramic horses, though I still have four that date from my youth and look very like the one you posted a photo of. Unfortunately, I think all mine have legs that were glued back on. And I couldn't sell them, anyway. They reside in my little boy's room, and I still remember the names I gave them as a child. The palomino one was named "Sunshine"--a foreshadowing, do you think?

Susan said...

I feel the same way. I can't imagine not having horses, but am no longer obsessed with riding. My Breyer and other model horses went to my younger sister. She claimed them after I left home. They're in good hands. She likes to collect stuff and I don't feel the need.

Alison said...

Laura, I loved your description of the glued on legs. My Steiff pony was loved 'bare' and none of my Breyers is totally intact! Too much 'riding' going on in my bedroom. I think you and I have the same trail riding joy. Only you have to absolute best trails.

Susan, I am glad you found a good home for your Breyers. If your sister gets sick of them, let me know! I hope you still do get to ride. :)

Jami Davenport said...

I used to have about 200 Breyers, but I sold all of them except the oldest and most valuable. I still have them and just can't bear to part with them.

Pattie said...

I just posted on another blog (Wee Folk Art) about change. Change is is sometimes embraced, other times it drags you, kicking and screaming, all the way. Yet, no matter how it comes, it always has attached, some small delight just waiting for us to find it and relish the feelings of change.

Francesca Prescott said...

Alison, I also like the Western Pony model best. I don't think we had Breyers over here; if we did I never knew. I had dozens of wooden and plastic horses, and loads of small turquoise ceramic ones. My daughter still has a few. I love how you're so excited about hunting for these horses!

I think it's interesting how our...interests change over the years, how our motivation for certain things appears, evolves, sometimes disappears, possibly to return later on. All those surprises yet to come :) May they all be good ones! Lots of love to you xxx

Alison said...

Jami--hang on to those valuable ones!

Pattie--well said about change.

Cesca--you had all those Steiff, which are harder to find since we loved them to death. :)

Linda Benson said...

Oh, Alison - you and I are in much the same place. My passion for riding and owning horses has quieted, but my interest in them has not dulled one bit. And like many of you, I had shelves and shelves of ceramic horses over my bed growing up, and my favorites had lots of glued-on legs, too. I still have some Breyer Horses (and a donkey) on my bookshelf. It says a lot about who we are. I'll probably take them to the rest home with me someday. LOL It's a statement. Enjoy your finding and buying and collecting streak. It sounds like a fun new adventure for you.

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