These days I’m usually writing fiction related to the Western genre, but I thought there might be a little value for maybe one person out there if I shared a brief story about the power and value in having a dream, a goal, something to aim your life towards even when you haven’t the first idea about how you would ever achieve it. For me that dream was HORSES!
I was born in the 60’s and grew up during the 70’s, it was a tough period for this country. I can still remember seeing all the stars that my neighbors had stuck in their windows for their sons that were fighting in Vietnam, my best friends family had three stars in their front window, yes three of their five sons off to war!
I grew up in a hard scrabble steel mill town in the Midwest, I never knew my father until many, many years later. Needless to say a single mother trying to raise five kids was no picnic for our mother or us and we struggled with all the difficulties that so often accompany such a situation.
Frying Pan Into the Fire
When the steel mills closed down and hundreds of men without more than a high school education lost their jobs seemingly over night, what fabric there was holding our community together evaporated. It was a time of hopelessness and dysfunction in every imaginable way and in many cases a dangerous environment for the children living there to navigate. The neighborhood I grew up in became a real life “Lord of the Flies” scenario with a couple dozen or more young boys running wild, many with no fathers and absent mothers, left to work things out on their own and it was brutal, sometimes savage.
Finding Hope In Unlikely Places
Luckily for me while seeking refuge in the bottom floor of our town’s library, after a group of much older teens had gone on a tear and had for consecutive days pummeled myself and my two friends, I came across an issue of Western Horseman magazine. I was entranced by the images in that magazine, it changed my life and I knew someday I would have my own horse and become a cowboy! I would return every month to the library eagerly awaiting the next issue and never missed one right up until shortly after my seventeenth birthday when I left for Paris Island, S.C. and the Marine Corps.
Fast forward now, I’ll save all the gory details for my memoirs, I realized my dream. I never gave up on having a life with horses and that one desire shaped my life and influenced my decisions in order to get me to that reality. Many of my childhood friends, including my best friend that lacked purpose or didn’t find their inspiration, did not fair well and fell prey to the dysfunction of our childhood, but I survived and defied the statistics all because of HORSES!
I went on to cowboy, became a rancher and ran my own cow-calf operation for many years and eventually, after becoming very skilled with horses, taught horsemanship professionally and even ended up working as an equine professional in the film industry. I honestly attribute being alive today and being a productive citizen of this world to the amazing HORSE, what an awesome animal and gift from the Creator, I’ll be forever grateful!