I've written about my friend, Trisha, on many occasions, but today the tables are turned and she's writing about me. I have to admit, this extremely flattering account of our decades long friendship makes me a little bit uncomfortable, because, you know, I'm really not that awesome. Mostly however, it makes me feel very loved and appreciated and reminds me of our many wonderful adventures. Thanks for everything, Trish!
Dear Pen Pal
by Trisha Swift
The pen pal ad was simple, but it caught my eye all the same.“Nineteen-year-old college student tired of an empty mailbox.” Even though the only other items included were a name and address in California, I knew I had much in common with this girl. For instance, I was also a 19-year-old college student tired of an empty mailbox. And since the ad was in the Just About Horses magazine, I was sure we were both mad about model horses, and most likely she was as mad about the real thing as I was.
I answered the ad, thinking I would just get a cool pen pal. I got much more than that.
|Blur Hill Farm, Unionville, pa 1994|
The more amazing surprise, though, I found when I (carefully) opened the envelope. After a brief introduction, the girl wrote, “For nine months out of the year, I think we’re practically neighbors.”
What? Indeed, it was true; this girl was an equine science student at Colorado State University, and while that’s not next door to my parents’ farm, it was less than a half-hour drive away. Incredible.
We exchanged letters that summer, and when fall came, Jennifer returned to Colorado. Our first phone conversation lasted well over an hour (in the days when my family’s phone was still a rotary-dial anchored to the wall), and we made plans to go to a horse farm to a book signing party with author Cherry Hill.
After that first night—when we stayed up until 11:00 talking after the book signing—I knew I had made a very cool friend. At the time, however, I didn’t know exactly how cool she was.
|Yeah, I am SO cool!|
|Truthfully--I was more brave than good!|
|Note the muddy legs!|
|NOT too cold to ride!|
“Okay.” She agreed. “But it's really cold. Can we ride bareback?”
“Why not?" I agreed to Jennifer’s idea to ride the Arabians down the road (because the arena was frozen), bareback (so we could be warmer), into the wind (so we could have it at our backs on the ride home). I don’t even think we wore hard hats. At least we put bridles on the horses instead of halters… I think. It’s hard to say which one of us was crazier.
|I think it was a tie!|
|Peace's reward for being used as a battering ram|
|Bareback on Charity, because eventually trail riding with a saddle got boring!|
Our model horse photo shoots usually ended with some sort of ridiculous laughing fit.
|Shooting on location at the Badlands, South Dakota|
Time moved on as we created more memories.
|Road trip to Spruce Meadows, Calgary, Alberta 1990|
I was distraught when she moved to Tennessee to work for a mobile tack shop.
But we remained in touch, and after years of other jobs, Jennifer returned to Colorado, and she turned more to model horse tack making. The artist who decorated many an envelope and box for me was also the artist who honed her craft into making beautiful works of art masquerading as model horse tack.
I was more than delighted to see her tack on the cover of the most recent edition of Just About Horses . It reminded me of how we met, the friendship we share, and the spark of inspiration which started it all.
In addition to being a teacher, horse trainer, upper level dressage rider and extremely good friend, Trisha is also a writer. Her first novel, At the In-Gate, is available as an ebook through Amazon.com.