A birthday gift that changed my life – Cameron Leigh Mosher

I was about to turn 10 years old, hardly a life changing event, but a gift I was about to receive has forever changed mine. My mom asked me if I would like horseback riding lessons, rather than the latest toy that was featured on Saturday morning cartoons. I asked her â how many lessons, and what do I get when the lessons are over?â She replied, â six, and the joy of the experience.â Typical mom response right?

The lessons began early November of 1998 and were held on Saturday mornings â no one had said anything about giving up Saturday morning cartoons. What kind of gift was this? Twelve kids showed up for the first lesson and we didnâ t even get on a horse, it was all about basic grooming and how to saddle them. So far, I wasnâ t convinced this was for me. However, on the way home from the barn my mom and I stopped at a garage sale and we found a beautiful riding helmet and boots that I â would grow into.â I secretly thought to myself that my mom was getting a little ahead of herself, but I thought I would at least now look the part.

As the weeks went by the weather got colder and the class thinned out considerably. It was now down to me and five other girls; and by the last two lessons only Anna and I remained. The temperature outside was 10 degrees, and not much warmer in the arena, but I didnâ t even notice as I thrived on this once a week; one hour gift.

I was able to convince my parents to continue my lessons; now twice a week. Of course, like every girl I sprinkled hints of a horse would make a great present. They just laughed at me and the thought. My mom said I needed to see first hand how much horse ownership involved and volunteered me to work at the barn 2 days a week. The only pay I would receive was a free lesson once a month and the opportunity to win the coveted â Student Worker of the Monthâ award. No trophy, no ribbon, just a chance to win another free lesson. I worked my butt off â I swept the barn, I tacked the horses before lessons and more importantly learned to care for something more important than myself. I won that awardâ ¦. alot. Along with riding, that first job enabled me to help the vets that came out, see farriers work their craft and learned to love every part of horseback riding.

Eventually, I got my wish and my parents bought me a horse; a thoroughbred too slow for the track. Dante, is an amazing animal and we have done well together as a team. He has also gotten me through some tough times; serious illnesses with both of my parents and typical teenage angst. Naturally, it wasnâ t because of any sage advice he could give, but it was knowing Dante was there and needed to be cared for.

After nine years of riding my room is packed with proof of my riding prowess â ribbons, medals and trophies. But the biggest source of pride I have from riding is now earning a living by teaching others to ride at the Danada Equestrian Center. How many people do you know that can say a birthday gift from their childhood taught them responsibility, fun, a sport and a paycheck? Now thatâ s a gift that keeps on giving.