I was scrolling through pictures on my phone, going down memory lane, and found these 2 pictures and they slapped me all into my feelings.
I sat and made a short video for content for my socials, and as I was watching, I just started to cry. All the memories came flooding back and they were all good. This place, Shadybrook Stables, was my happy place. I felt like I was where I belonged.
My grandad put me on a pony when I was a toddler, and told me that when it was time for me to dismount, and give another little kid a turn, I threw a fit. So from that point on, they took me to the pony rides whenever they could. When I was about 9, he asked around, and found Shadybrook Stables. It was a homey place owned by a guy named Jim Moss. Jim used to teach at a local school, and would often take in kids that had “troubles”…or needed a place to learn how to channel their energy into something positive. I remember meeting all kinds of personalities there. I was really introverted and dealing with, what I know now to be ongoing trauma. At the time, I just knew how I felt, not all the psycho babble.
I was a part of a group that had their own horses a lot of the time. I didn’t “own” a horse, but my grandad brokered some kind of deal with Jim for me to have a horse to myself, that I could ride when I wanted. I didn’t know the details of it, but was very grateful to be able to do what made me the happiest.
After my mom and stepdad moved us to Kansas, I went back to Virginia for one summer. I got my first job at Sears, in the Landmark Mall.. Grandad let me drive the ole Dodge Dart, so I would get up every morning, and drive out to the stables, spend all day out there LOVING every minute. I would leave in enough time to get back to Grandma and Grandad’s house and get cleaned up and go to work for about 4 or 5 hours in the evenings. I pretty much learned to drive in the DC metro area. I remember that if I didn’t get onto 495 at about 5 minutes before 8, I would get caught in rush hour traffic and move along at a snails pace. The drive was nice… I cruised past the pentagon, down onto GW parkway, and on into McLean to the stables. Grandad was very frugal, and the Dart didn’t have a radio, or air conditioning, and had black vinyl seats. But she drove and got me there. I carried a battery operated radio in the seat and listened to Paul Harvey.
Those of us that had horses, had a tack/bunk room that had a couch, tv, fridge and a microwave. We would hang out in there in between rides. During lunch time, we would all get on our horses, and ride to the 7-11. We’d ride down the sidewalks, along the woods next to the road, and park our horses on the side of 7-11 and get junk food for lunch. Then ride back to the stables. All the memories are just tucked away in my heart.
One of the kids that would come out had struggled. She had tried to kill herself. I didn’t talk to her very much, but I felt some kind of kingship with her, because I had wanted to die when I was 9. I saw her a few times, then she didn’t come back. Life happened and I grew up, had kids, all of that… but I often thought of her and how she did in life. I also had a good friend, that was older than me, who was an attorney, and I wondered about her as well. I think I was able to get ahold of her when I was in my early 20’s, but future attempts have failed. Jim Moss, the owner of the stables passed away in 2007. His son and his wife kept the stables up as much as they could, until they couldn’t and it closed down. That made me so sad. I wish I could have bought the place and at least kept it from being developed. All of the trails we used to use, had been destroyed with housing, so they couldn’t ride out anymore. I talked with someone at the stables years ago and they filled me in on what I had missed. I felt like a dynasty had ended. That sounds extreme, because Jim was the opposite of fancy or rich, but he was a huge part of my life at that time. The time I spent there impacted my life in a permanent way. I was destroyed when we moved, and heartbroken when I couldn’t go back. Such is life.
So anyway, there’s my trip down memory lane for today. This is more of a journaling post, so I can articulate my feelings.