A Commentary from Mom-Cat Hurst
Cathleen Jeanne Hurst, Christianna Capra's mother
I'm not completely sure when Christianna (aka at the time "Tina") saw her first real horse. She played on the bouncy horses in the yard at University of Colorado student housing complex. We had received a new member of our family, a Labrador puppy we named Rufus, and were invited to find other housing as a result. So while her father was away on a football trip for the University, I found a new, dog-friendly home in the mountains west of Boulder, Colorado. There were two hundred people living in Jimtown, lots of dogs and lots of horses, ponies and a donkey named Jennie. We also made the acquaintance of Moses, a wild burro who lived in the mountains and was fond of sticking his shaggy head inside our window and announcing his presence with a hearty hello.
Tina met Eyeore, a little pony just her size. Her babysitter would take her riding on Shotzie, a large and powerful Morgan/Quarterhorse. We were celebrities of a sort as Tina's dad was a well-known and successful defensive tackle at the University of Colorado. The boys of the town would come by and see if, "Dave could come out and play football in the street."
Tina decided that it would be more fun to be a horse than a human. She opted for the four-legged even then! We created a horse-house in the corner cupboard area of our large kitchen. We spread straw for bedding, oats and hay for munching, and water for drinking. Later, when her brother David was born she outfitted them both with horse tails from my hairpiece and pinned them on their jammies. One day we went to the post office for an outing and forgot to take the tails off. Two golden-haired, rosy-cheeked children in their parkas were standing at the candy counter with a few inches of tails sprouting below the parka hems. People just looked and smiled.
Every day I heard the same refrain: "Mommy, please get me a horse? I want a horse!" We read the unabridged print of Black Beauty everyday. Cover to cover. I believe she learned to read sitting in my lap as we read, and I'm quite sure she memorized the text. Soon, Tina would put on plays about Black Beauty, feeding me lines as I nursed her brother.
"Oh Black Beauty, you're the most beautiful horse in the world with a tail that touches the ground!" Grammy Capra would be enlisted to repeat the lines, as well as Uncle R and anyone else who happened into our horse fantasy kingdom.
One day, our neighbor Mary Ann gave me some horse magazines for Tina. I said to Tina, "Pick out a horse." She carefully turned each page and then said, "I want this one." She chose Secretariat.