2018 Equestrian Voices Distinguished Entry
BY KIM HINSON
“Do you think I’m doing the right thing getting a divorce?” I asked Megan, my twelve-year-old daughter as I tucked her in. I always asked Megan inappropriate questions like that. Three-year-old Celina sat on the floor at my feet softly singing “I-love-my-sister,” on endless repeat as she played with her Beanie Babies.
“You are Mom,” Megan replied. Her hazel eyes and even her freckles looked serious and more grown-up than I’d ever seen. “You know you and Dad never really got along.”
“Maybe I should have done something, cooked better…” my voice faded. I wondered if I should have begged Mike to stay like I’d done so many times in the past twenty years. I wondered if I should have cried. Sobbed even. Told him he’d miss us, that he’d miss the girls. That was usually what got him to stay in the past.
“It wasn’t just the cooking Mom,” said Megan, touching my arm, gentle as a whisper.
I sighed and hugged her close. “I think you’re right honey,” I said. “You sleep really good in your big, beautiful room.”
I rolled off the bed, smoothed her blanket around her and said, “Pretty soon we’ll start looking for horses. Won’t that be great?”
“I can’t wait,” said Megan and a smile lit her face.
Gathering up Celina and her Beanie Babies, I carried her downstairs to the master bedroom and tucked her into the foldout couch I’d set up next to my bed.
I flicked off the light, and started thinking. I always told the girls that nighttime was never a good time for thinking. It may have been the only sensible motherly advice I’d ever given. But per usual, I didn’t follow my own scrap of wisdom.
I thought about finding a home for us. A capital-H Home. A peaceful place. Somewhere quiet where a single mom and her daughters could live safely in the country and keep the horses, dogs, cats, and whatever other animals we needed and wanted all around us. I thought we needed a farm. But the question was…where? We’d lived so many places in the last twenty years. Where was “home?”
And I thought about horses. I thought about the horses I’d haggled to get when I turned thirteen myself, and the horses I’d promised my daughters we’d get when we moved from Vermont to North Carolina. I remembered the sense of freedom and strength I always got when riding my horse. And the power—the power that let me go where I wanted—to explore the world without fear. Power that I controlled with a sure but gentle, loving touch.
I took care of my horse. Fed, watered, groomed, and sheltered him. And in return, he gave me power and strength and freedom. It was a steady and true and deeply symbiotic relationship. A relationship I could count on. Better than any boy for sure, I’d thought in my youth. And better than any man on earth, I thought now.
In that moment, I was positive that once I had a horse again everything would be all right. Having a horse would let me be the real me again. Having a horse would let me be the person I used to be before I met Mike—optimistic and brave, determined and cheerful, strong and adventurous. Having a horse would let me be that way again, and having a horse would let my daughters be the girls they were meant to be.
A horse would let my daughters run, really run, headlong into this life with joy and with all their hearts. I hoped that having horses would entice them to spend more time galloping across open fields, and less time looking in the mirror. And I hoped that having horses would give them such confidence that when they did look in the mirror, they’d see what I saw—beautiful, kind, strong young women with the willpower, intelligence, and just plain grit to do whatever in this world they wanted.
The first thing I’ll do is get us a horse, I thought.
I sat on my bed, took a pen and pad of sticky notes from my bedside table and started making a list.
Find a good horse, I wrote and stuck the note to the table.
Kim Hinson is an outside-loving, forever optimistic, yet chronically worried writer, professor, and mother of three daughters. She believes that finding a home—a capital H Home—and having a good horse are what life’s all about. Add a lot of great books to that mix and Poof! It’s Heaven on Earth. Find out more about Kim and see lots of pictures at http://kimhinson.com/
The inaugural $2500 Equestrian Voices Creative Writing Contest celebrated stories written by and for horse lovers from all over the world. We were inundated with amazing narratives about triumph, loss and the deep emotional experience that is being with an amazing horse. To learn more about the 2019 contest, visit theplaidhorse.com/write.