Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nothing better

On a beautiful, warm January late afternoon...
She is new to the Cowgirl Up! Clan, yet maybe not.  Took to the back of a horse right off the bat!

Imagine the tales those furry ears take in, have listened through generations of joys, woes, and "Okay, today IS the day..."

Then, there are these two.  Champion nuzzlers, kissers, mmmmm-good Little Ones.  I think that they are so cute in their muddy wooly winter coats.

Yesterday was a riding lesson for my granddaughters, first time up for seven year old Mary with the bright orange cast.  Excited to get there, mortified to realize that they knew the youngsters ahead of them, the girls were fun to watch as they went through their minor emotional roller-coaster ride.

Of course, I began to trace back into the archives of my experience, trying to remember my own first time up on a horse.  I rode a saddle on the timber in the hay barn, which was wobblely and musty old, leathery, and covered with cobwebs... maybe I was seven?  Then, I learned how to ride a bicycle, and rode it mercilessly through potholes to imitate what it might feel like to ride a real horse.  I rode the ponies at the Fair, in endless circles.  I ruined my bicycle.  I rode calves and occasionally a tame cow.

When I was probably in the 8th grade, my good friend, Bobbie, invited me out to their ranch after school, and we were going to ride.  Bobbie's family were, so to speak, "born to ride."  Their dad rode in the rodeo, and he was the coolest cowboy that set foot on this planet.  So we rode the bus home, inhaled a snack, and headed out to the barn.  Frances helped me saddle my horse Coalie, a huge black ranch horse.  He showed me how to cinch up the cinch; oh, and how to be sure and tie Coalie's head to the fence first, so he wouldn't take a chunk out of my rear-end.  Accomplishing all of this, while Bobbie saddled her own mount, Frances then helped me get on the giant horse.  Of course, Bobbie walked hers over to the water trough, climbed up and then over and into the saddle.  Assured that I was settled (ha!), feet in the stirrups, etc., Frances whacked Coalie on the butt and hollared, "Git!"

Bobbie hollared at her dad, "DON'T!!!  She doesn't know how to ride!!!"  Looking down at the ground, I estimated that it was at least 10 feet away.  I was terrified.  Had I spoken to one of my parents like that, I'd have been doomed.

Bobbie was an excellent teacher.  She explained how to hold the reins, how to put my feet in the stirrups, how to open the gate from the back of the horse!!!!  how to make that little noise that says "go!"  I learned how to steer and how to stop.  Coalie was patient, and we rode a long ways before turning back, or even around, because it was his habit to make a bee line for the barn.  We rode far out into the wide open space of grassland that ends in sand dunes and the Pacific Ocean.  If Coalie misbehaved, Bobbie would yell at him, and then tell me what to do.  I can still hear her voice saying to me, "You're a Natural!!!  You look Great on a horse!!!"

No need to say, Bobbie went on to become a teacher.  

And I learned to ride a horse.  Not too long after the rides with Bobbie, Dad and I began looking for a horse.  Understand, a horse on a dairy was a big stretch: animals were supposed to "pay for themselves."  Maybe Dad decided that it would be safer to have his daughter home, with her own horse, than "out there" looking....  Or maybe he knew the adage, from my sister, "there is nothing better for the insides of a girl than the outsides of a horse."

We are so blessed.


1 comment:

Merry ME said...

Cowgirl Up Clan! I want to belong!!! Sadly, I'm so spooked by big beautiful equines that I can only enjoy them from afar.

I am so proud of little Mary. Broken arm and all, riding like a rodeo queen. She rocks!

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