Thursday, January 21, 2010
I have a love/hate relationship with horses. I love to look at them; but hate to ride them. I was 19 years old when I got on my first horse. I was on my honeymoon. (That sounded a little derogatory, didn't it?) We signed up to ride a trail with a bunch of riders. It was an hour long ride. What was I thinking? Obviously I wasn't. I was fearless, young, and in-love. I could do anything. Boy was I wrong. It scared the bejesus out of me. We rode up hills, we rode down hills. Very steep hills. Hills that were so steep that I thought I was going to fall head first over the horse. Luckily I wasn't on the horse that my husband rode on. He was warned that when his horse wanted the rider to get off, it would immediately drop to the ground and roll over; the rider had to scramble off before getting flattened like a pancake. All went well till we were just about at the end of the trail. Then - bam! The horse dropped, my husband jumped off, and the ride was over.
Ten years passed until I got on another horse. My life had changed somewhat. I now had two children, one less husband, and was dating my current husband, Jim. We went horseback riding with a group of friends. I signed up as a "novice" rider. They gave me an old nag named "Dotty."
"You don't have to worry about Dotty," the woman assured me. "She's an old gal. She won't even trot!" Then she laughed.
Jim got a bigger, and younger horse. I don't remember it's name, but I know it was male and he was fast.
Our friend, Matt, had never been on a horse, so he was even more inexperienced than me. Altogether there were about seven in our group. Things started off well enough; we rode slow and stayed together in a pack. Matt's horse wouldn't stay on the path; she kept wondering off the trail to the tall grass growing alongside the fence. Matt couldn't control his horse. Either Jim or one of the other riders (not me) would ride over to Matt, take his horse's reins, and lead it back to the trail. This happened a few times. Then all of a sudden Matt's horse turned around and started galloping back towards the barn. That's all we saw was Matt's receding back as he held on for dear life with one hand, and waved goodbye with the other one. We didn't see him for the whole hour we were on the trail.
Pretty soon our horses began to pick up speed. The spaces widened between all of us. I brought up the rear, and followed Jim's horse. All of a sudden it was as if his horse got a bug up his butt. He took off across the field like a bat out of hell. And guess what? Ole Dotty wasn't so old after all! She started trotting/galloping after Jim's horse like nobody's business! Okay. Nobody told me about posting. And I'm not talking about blogging. I'm talking where you lift your butt off the saddle and set it back down, in an up and down motion, in conjunction with the horse's movement. This makes for a comfortable ride for both the rider and the horse. Nope, nope, nope. Never heard of such a word. I was a novice rider, remember? So there I was, holding on to Dotty for dear life, cussing her out like a sailor, all the while my ass was slapping that saddle. I thought for sure by the time Dottie caught up with Jim that he would find me hanging underneath the horse, clinging to Dottie's belly! I barely made it to Jim in one piece. By the time I caught up with him, tears streaked down my face, my throat was raw from screaming, and my ass felt like it had been paddled by spanking machine! Jim's horse finally slowed down to a walk and then so did Dottie.
Jim took one look at me and asked incredulously, "What happened to you?"
I explained what happened and vowed that it would be a long time before I got on a horse again.
Flash forward about 15 years - Jim, our daughter, and I went to Wisconsin Dells for a free weekend of camping. That's all we had to do was listen to a sales pitch to buy into a condo or time share. Anyway, the weekend included horseback riding. I thought to myself, "Why not give it a try. Enough time had passed since the last bad incident." So the three of us walked down to the stables to get our horses. All the horses were tied up outside in a line. The man would look you up and down and then assign a horse to you. He put my daughter on a nice small horse. He looked at Jim, then at me. I saw him look over to this honking tall, wide-ass horse. Then he looked at me. Shit. And he waved me over. Now - My husband is almost a foot taller than me. Okay I exaggerate. He's 10 inches taller. And a good 50 pounds heavier. So explain to me again why I'm getting the effing stallion? I stood next to the horse and looked up, and up, and swallowed. I had a hard time getting up on him, AND a hard time spreading my legs over his girth. (SHUT UP). The guy finished assigning the horses. I noticed Jim's horse wasn't as big as mine. What was up with that? The guy then got on his horse and gave us some basic lessons, like pull right on the reins to go right, left to go left, and back to stop. He warned us to keep a little distance between horses because they didn't like another horse near their own rear end. Good to know. We all lined up and started on the trail.
Not ten feet from the corral stood two horses that were loose. As soon as my horse passed them, one of the horses came over to my horse, and my horse kicked up his hind legs! With me on him! I let out a blood-curdling scream! C'mon, we haven't even left the grounds yet and already I'm in trouble? This cannot be good.
This set the tone for the rest of the ride. I gripped this horse so hard with my knees. I was tense the complete ride. Let's just say that I did NOT enjoy the ride whatsoever. I kept praying for it to be over. It was the longest hour of my life.
Finally we rounded a bend and I could see the barn. Yes! The horses slowed down and started bunching up. I pulled on the reins so my horse wouldn't get too close to the horse in front of me. I didn't want any kind of trouble. Nosiree Bob! I didn't notice the gap getting bigger and bigger in front of me. Unbeknown to me, I had continued to pull back on the reins. There were about six horses behind me. They were all backing up. The leader happened to turn around and saw the large gap and the mess I was creating.
He yelled, "Hey! You've got your horse stuck in REVERSE!"
Oh. Yeah. So if you continuously pull on the reins, the horse backs up. Who knew?
By the time we reached the stable, I could barely get off the horse. My legs were stiff from clenching them so hard. I was so bow legged when I walked that I looked like Yosemite Sam, only without the guns. Oh. And my mustache isn't quite that long.
And so, folks, due to my past experiences with horse back riding, I say nay, nay to trying it again. So, unfortunately, this picture is more appropriate for this post than the top one.