The ladies over on the Equestrian Ink blog are generously running a summer reading giveaway (info here). The title and description of the latest read struck a chord.
I too, like Annie in the book, had a horse jar growing up - or in my case, a horse hoard. Yes, I had a pony - and yes, we had horses. But the pony, lovely as he was and as much as I loved him, still had to be shared with my sister. And the other horses weren't mine.
So my tiny hoard started to accumulate in hopes that it would one day grow up to become a horse of my very own. It collected years of dish-washing quarters ($.25 for every time I did the dishes when it was my turn - without arguing -Ah, the lost opportunities there!). It ate birthday and lawn-mowing money, a $1 an hour for music practice, and a few dollars here and there from dog/baby sitting (dogs are more fun and less work!) and odd jobs. The hoard certainly didn't get every penny I earned, but eventually it added up to about $400.
As time went on, I got a regular summer job with a real paycheck, but I wasn't always completely faithful to my horse fund - when I started driving, too much of my paycheck went to fill the gas tank of my old, gas-guzzling Impala and having fun with friends. But it didn't get any smaller, either.
It stayed with me all through college, although it didn't get much bigger. Money I earned summers continued to go to gas money (so I could get to work) and textbooks for school. Any extra after that went to riding lessons while I was away at college so that I could at least have the smell and feel of being near horses twice a week. But my ear-marked $400 stayed in the bank in the savings account my mom talked me into opening. It didn't draw much interest, but it didn't get spent, either.
When I got my first real grown-up, now-I-have-a-career sort of job, I transferred my bank accounts, and that $400 came along to South Dakota. I found people to ride with, and there was certainly never a shortage of horses to ride. But just like always, none of them were mine.
So at long last, seven years ago, my long-held $400 finally left the bank and I bought my very first horse all-on-my-own horse.
Of course, since Sunny requires upkeep, I still have that "horse hoard" where all my pocket change goes. He's a just a smidgeon more expensive than spare change will support, but you'd be amazed how much a year's worth of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters total out to when you don't spend them on anything else. Changed into green stuff at the bank, they'll pay for quite a bit. And the mental health Sunny brings me? It's worth every penny, nickel, dime, quarter and dollar saved - or spent.