Friday, March 19, 2004

A Horse Is A Horse, Of Course, Of Course...

When I was young, I loved horses. Apparently that's just a little-girl thing; I read somewhere that's it practically law that little girls be into horses. I didn't know that when I was small...all I knew was that I loved horses. So did my friend Shanon. She had shelves full of model horses that we played with when I'd go over to her house. While playing, I dreamed of the day that I'd finally get to ride a real horse.

One day my dream came true. An old friend of mine (old is a relative term. I think I was in 4th grade and I'd known this girl since I was in kindergarten. Back then, that's a long time!), Cricket, was having a birthday party and part of the fun was horseback riding! I was all a-twitter with excitement. I was going to ride a horse! I was going to feel the wind whip through my long blonde hair as it galloped across a field of flowers....

Back to reality. My horse was an old, saggy gray mare who had, absolutely HAD, to be the last horse in line. If any other horse lagged and ended up behind me and my nag, she completely stopped and would wait until he was back in front of her. When the guy in charge of leading all the little girls on this horse ride came to check on me, I complained that I was moving too slow. "Well, you said you had never ridden before so I gave you the safest horse we had." He said this like I should be thanking him. Bah! I just learned that to get what I want, it's better to lie. By telling the truth all I had accomplished was killing my dream of running wild & free.

After about an hour, it was time to head back to the stables. All this time I had tried my best to enjoy the ride but I was severely disappointed. Apparently the horse felt this and decided to do something about it. Without warning, the mare took off at a hard pace. Whee! Now this was what I was talking about! This is - OOF! The damn thing ran me straight into a tree!

Yes, my second running-into-a-tree story but this one wasn't my fault! This horse galloped, purposely, for a tree that had long, thick, low-hanging branches. My forehead struck a branch and with my cry of pain and surprise, the horse came to a stop. Her mission was complete. I could hear her back in the stables with her horsey friends, "Yeah, I taught that whippersnapper a lesson. Smacked her right into that oak tree." And all her buddies would laugh.

Now, traumatic as that had been, it did not sway me from ever riding again. I've ridden twice at family reunions. The first one, my mom was the victim of a schizophrenic horse who was apparently afraid of water and jumped a two-foot wide creek like she was leaping over a gorge with a posse full of lynchers on her tail. The second time wasn't really wasn't the horse's fault. The guy that cinched up the saddle didn't do it tight enough...or maybe...the horse was poofing out his stomach when he put the saddle on so when he inhaled, the saddle slid off. Hmm...I've read where horses will do that. So maybe it WAS the horse's fault...

Anyway, I was riding this huge horse. I got him because I HAD RIDDEN A HORSE BEFORE! Yay for me! No more lagging nags for me. Nope, no sir. I also had my 6 year old cousin Amy riding in front of me. She was terrified being on this horse and the saddle horn was uncomfortable, poking her in the stomach. As we started to climb up a hilly part of the trail, I realized that the saddle was slipping. Crap! What do I do? The hill was getting steeper and steeper and there was a little ravine on one side of me, a patch of cactus and other inhospitable looking plants on the other. Slowly sliding, sliding...sllliiiidddiinngg....

"Hey! My saddle's sliding off," I finally yelled. My Uncle Ray, Amy's dad, flew up beside us.

"Give me Amy!" Just I passed the kid off, the saddle swung all the way over, taking me with it. Luckilly, I landed on the ravine side. I hit the edge and didn't really fall. What galled me was that no one was there to catch me. Amy had her dad to save her. Where was my support group? Ah, well...just another miserable experience riding a horse.

I haven't ridden since but we do have another reunion coming up in July. I might just ride so I can write something else here.

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