To most of us, spelling that word is not a huge accomplishment however, to a four-year old boy learning the alphabet saying that word aloud was very significant; certainly, worthy of a treat after school.
I used to practice that word every day as my father drove me to school in his old black 4×4 GMC. We would drive past the different horse farms in Elkton, MD pointing out the many color variations.
I was so proud when I actually spelled “HORSE”. And since that time, horses were an important part of my life. I remember my first pony, Buttercup. He was a little miniature Shetland pony that I eventually outgrew. Then I took riding lessons in Fair Hill. I never did any shows or competitions outside of trail riding, however I simply loved everything horse!
My parents and family encouraged this love buying numerous books, games and figurines. In fact, I remember (and my mother recalls this tale well) my first toy horse.
We were on a family vacation at Disney Land in Orlando Florida. I don’t remember much of it; however, I do remember having to wear a leash on my wrist so my parents could find me (I was a very active child) and sitting in my blue stroller when I got tired.
One afternoon, we visited the Budweiser horses. I remember the powerful animals sitting calmly there in their stalls letting numerous people walk by and stroke their flaxen manes.
Of course, I asked my mother, father and aunt if I could have a horse. And they said “Why, YES! Of course I could have a horse!!!” So, they all took me to the gift shop and bought me my first horse; a plastic horse that is. And boy, did I love my horse! I carried him with every day that vacation until the second to last day, when I couldn’t find him.
I was beside myself! As my parents recall vividly, I cried and cried until my face was beat red then I cried some more until I couldn’t cry. My parents tried to get me numerous replacements that day! They offered me cotton candy, ice cream, a trip to Mickey Mouse and even another stuffed horse; however, nothing worked.
As they tell the story, after they saw my sobs sinking into depression, they had to go all the way back to the gift shop across the park to buy me an exact replica of my Clydesdale horse that I had carried around with me for the whole week. This time, my parents decided to buy two horses, just in case something ever happened to one on the ride home.
Finally, I could sleep at night having my horse.
After that time period, I always knew I wanted to be a veterinarian, and for all kinds of animals too. My experience with my own pets has helped me be a better vet. When I was in high school, I got a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who had a variety of different aliments; everything from hypothyroidism to a torn ACL. I also had a cat with kidney failure that was a handful to manage. While in veterinary school, I leased a horse, Spud, so I could expose myself to problems horse owners dealt with on a regular basis.
A career in veterinary medicine was always in my future, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Robert Campbell, DVM