Thursday, April 21, 2011

Grasshoppers and Horses

Yum! Grasshoppers and Horses are a sweet combo!
Grasshopper cookies make me think ... horses.

Growing up, I rode other people's horses through leasing agreements -- Copy Cat, Goose, Mini Dude, and my favorite, Bandit. After Bandit was shipped back to her owners in Atlanta, I suddenly found myself 15, horseless and seriously heartbroken.

That's when mom spilled the beans -- I was getting my own horse! On May 22, 1980, as a belated birthday gift, my mother gave me a beautiful, gray mare named Irish. How perfect was that -- my birthday falls on St. Patrick's Day?! It was kismet. She was rotten when I brought her to Coventry Farms, but over the first year, we learned a lot about and grew to trust each other. We were a great team.

My beautiful, gray mare, Irish. Her show
name was Shades of Gray, so named
after a song by The Monkees.
I rode competitively and loved it! Not just the riding part, but the hanging out with Mom at horse shows part, too. She would rise before dawn (and let me tell you, my mother  is not a morning person!) to braid my horse's mane and tail, fighting arthritic hands. And every horse show, she would pack our favorite cookies -- Keebler's Grasshoppers, thin, wafery, mint-chocolate goodness. 

Thank you, Mom, for all those wonderful weekends of braided manes, shiny riding boots, nervously holding on to my horse by the reins, anxiously watching me jump fences when surely you wanted nothing more than to hide your eyes! (I realize this now that I'm a mom.) 

It all happened 30 years ago, but often feels like yesterday. Whenever I see, smell or eat Grasshopper cookies, I think about my horse shows, remember Irish, and feel very grateful not only for the outlay of money it took to support my habit, but especially for the investment of time, love, and enthusiasm my mother gave during a crucial part of my life. My days at the barn are the best, best days of my adolescence.

First show at Killearn Stables, Walk Trot, first place.
Eventually won champion for the day. The pony is Copy Cat.
Mini Dude looking perky circa 1977 at the Springtime
Tallahassee Horse Show at the Leon County Fairgrounds.

Goose! Crazy-looking, dappled, Appaloosa
mare. Sweet girl. We won championship
that day in our short-stirrup classes.

My Lady Bandit hanging out having
fun on the weekend.
Bandit looking AWESOME after a show
at Brookwood in Thomasville. It was
an off day, but still a lot of fun.


  1. I'm a Tallahassee horse show Mom...and while so much has changed over the years in some ways, one thing sure hasn't - my daughter and I will forever have the memories of those early mornings, long road trips, triumphs and defeats. And of course, those magnificent animals we love so much.

  2. Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment. I have two boys, and as hard as I've tried to get them interested in riding -- I'd have even taken Western riding -- I've had no luck. :-( I loved watching them play soccer and lacrosse and taking them to tournaments, but it sure isn't the same as the experiences and times my mom and I shared during my riding days.

  3. My boys were not interested in riding either. Just not the same as the horse crazy little girls. Eat sleep and breathe horses. My mom never did understand my horse habit. You gave me a piece of soap with a horse head on it that I had in a special place for years. It only got thrown away about 10 yrs ago because it was falling apart. I had a picture of you with one of the horses with it. Memories.

  4. Christy, I'm hoping that a) I get a granddaughter one day (but not TOO soon); and b) I'm not too old to indulge her in a little horse therapy! I can't believe that soap lasted as long as it did! I actually remember it! Don't recall which picture it might have been, though. Wow. You're right...memories.