by Laurel Mitton
When eighth grade ended, I was not looking forward to summer. All my friends lived at least an hour’s drive away and I had no way of talking to them. I was prepared for a dreary summer rereading the same books over and over. My summer, in short, might as well not exist.
Then my mom told me about Square Peg. I’ve lived with and on horses since before I was born but out of our original herd of seven, we had only one retired Quarter Horse left. A barn with 20 horses sounded like heaven. Even so, I was still nervous. I hadn’t ever worked in a real barn and I didn’t know how to handle thoroughbreds. I didn’t know what would happen next.
As we drove up the driveway, I saw a line of seven or eight horses poking their heads over the fence of their stalls. A friendly girl met me in the shed row and introduced herself as Tessa. She showed me around and her bubbly personality made me feel at home immediately. Soon Rachel gave me some chores and Tessa helped teach me the routine. A few weeks later Rachel told me to go tack up Bert for my first lesson.
Since then I’ve been riding once a week and coming as many as three times a week to what I consider my second home. By the time my mom picks me up I’m covered in horse dirt, but I couldn’t be any happier to have found such a wonderful community of not just co-volunteers but friends. Everyone at Square Peg, from instructors to riders, treats not only me but each other as family. One big horsey family.
At Square Peg I’ve learned everything from how to balance six rollies, four feed tubs, and three girls on one golf cart to how to wrap polos to how to play Red Rover on horseback to how a good trot can make anyone’s day. I’m grateful to Square Peg for giving me enough confidence in my riding to jump bareback, a happy refuge from everyday stress, and, most importantly, a community of friends I hope will never disappear.