Monday, September 14, 2009

Hobby Horse

By Deborah Sharp

Guest blogging is a popular way for authors to reach new readers. My friends at Killer Hobbies invited me to post today, even though I confessed to being hobby-less. Fellow author Joanna Campbell Slan disagreed:

''You rode a horse all the way across the state of Florida,'' she said. "THAT'S your hobby.''

"What? Doing age-inappropriate things for which I am insanely unprepared?''

"No,'' Joanna said patiently. "Horseback riding.''

That marathon, six-day ride I did to research MAMA RIDES SHOTGUN was a bit more of my ''hobby,'' however, than I bargained for: 120 miles. Sleeping on the ground. At age 50-plus. What the heck was I thinking??? Two years later, the feeling is finally returning to my rear end.

(The terrific picture above, of me atop Domino for the 2007 Florida Cracker Trail ride, was taken by Judge Nelson E. Bailey. Check out his great pictures here. )

But, Joanna's right --- if we can loosely define ''hobby'' as something I manage to do very occasionally, usually while my husband Kerry and I are on our annual vacation. That's not a bad thing, since we've had the chance to ride in some incredible locations, thanks to Kerry's globe-trotting inclinations. If it were up to me, I'd return yearly to the same hammock under a palm tree in nearby Key West. But over our 20-year marriage, Kerry ALWAYS opts for the exotic: Native criollo ponies on a wind-swept estancia in Argentina, Tennessee walkers on
Washington State's Orcas Island, ancient creatures outfitted with even-older wooden saddles (!) in Guatemala.

Still, I long for the time in my life when riding was less an infrequently indulged hobby and more an obsession.

Was anyone as consumed with horses as I was at 13? Equine tales ruled my bookshelf: BLACK BEAUTY, MY FRIEND FLICKA, and MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE.

I drew horses on my paper-bag book covers during school, and dreamed of them all night. When
I got Val, a beautiful quarter horse, we galloped over open pastures and through orange groves, on land planted now with south Florida strip malls.

I loved that horse so much that I slept overnight in her stall on a bed of hay more than once.

Does anybody feel like that about a hobby?

I still get a guilty twinge, all these years later, remembering how I cast Val aside once I discovered the world of boys and dating. Of course, we found her a good home, with a young girl still safely in pre-adolescence. I sobbed when they loaded Val in the trailer to go.

How about you? Have you ever been emotionally attached to a hobby -- or a horse? And how did you feel when you let that hobby go?

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