Timberwillow, my first horse

Don’t ask me about the name Timberwillow. To my ear it sounds a bit like the place of a village of character from the world of J.R.R. Tolkien or any other fantastic world. But when I was about 10 years old, it sounded like the perfect name for my first horse. Of course I had been thinking about the name since I knew I was going to get a horse, but if I can correctly recall—and I don’t know if I can—I just happened to see a willow tree or possibly a pile of wood that made me think of the name.
Timberwillow was still young when I got her. In fact, she hadn’t been broken in yet but my parents knew the owners of Timberwillow’s parents, so more or less from when she was born it was clear that I would get her for my next birthday. She was a beautiful, white and grey Arabian horse and as we were both young when we met our ebullient and playful personalities matched perfectly.
As a child I wasn’t much into showjumping or dressage or any of the more defined equestrian arts. I took classes in them all, but really what I liked best was just talking care of my horse and taking her out for rides whenever I could. Although I later got interested in competitions and the more technical aspects of riding when I was an adult, as a child and later teenager, my favourite thing was just to ride into the wood or across the meadow next to Timberwillow’s stable and let my imagination run wild.
Sometimes I would play out in my head the stories I had been reading in school, and when we read some of 1001 Nights I was enthralled because I felt a special connection to the story because Timberwillow was Arabian herself. I would ride her to a little pond and then read a chapter and ride her back.
What I loved and miss about Timberwillow—though I think this is actually me just missing my youth—is that she allowed me to do physically what I was doing in my mind all along: escape. I didn’t have a bad or even particularly challenging life growing up, but the mental freedom I had in those early years of my life will always be tied to Timberwillow.