That old Kenny Rogers song came to mind today, as I was thinking over the happenings of my weekend. In terms of horses, you should never be too sure of a horse. Riding horses is always a gamble. There are no sure bets, and you can win or lose with a stroke of luck, good or bad. I always say, “That’s the way the cookie crumbled.” And there’s no predicting it, how events are going to go or what exactly is going to take place. I think the cards were stacked against me in the hand I was dealt on Saturday!
I got a phone call last weekend out of the blue. The guy had been searching online for horse trainers in the area and found an ad I had placed probably eight years ago (before I had kids) when I was looking to take in outside horses to train. He wondered if I could help him with two horses he was wanting trained, and me being the horse enthusiast I am, I said “Sure.” I had to follow that up with a lengthy explanation of how I am a mom of three, work full time, and almost never have the time to ride anymore–but I assured him that I could help him put some rides on these horses of his.
We recently stayed at a swanky hotel in St. Louis where my husband attended a business conference for his work. The kids and I went along just for fun, the thought of spending three days at an indoor-pool-equipped establishment being our main motivation—yes, the long winter is getting to us! While there, my husband got his cowboy boots shined at the shoe-shine station in the lobby. After seeing the transformation from scuffed to gleaming, our son wanted his little boots shined as well. While he sat and got them polished, one of the hotel managers struck up a conversation by asking our son if he had a horse to go with those boots….
You may have heard about the recent study sponsored by Harley Davidson that deducted that women who ride motorcycles are happier than women who don’t. The study was conducted by Kelton, and interviewed 1,013 adult female riders and 1,016 adult female non-riders. “The findings make it clear that riding a motorcycle greatly improves a woman’s feelings of overall self-worth.” I wonder what a similar study would find, if they interviewed women who ride horses rather than motorcycles?
Riding horses is dangerous. So is operating an automobile. So I’m not saying we shouldn’t engage in either activity, but I’d like to point out that when you are around a horse, virtually anything can happen. I’ve seen good horses in bad wrecks, great riders get broken up, and not-very-cautious riders get away with doing some stupid things around horses and get away with it. What we all should keep in mind is that there is great risk involved in riding horses and training horses, and a smart rider will do what he can to protect himself and his horse.
I’m sitting here after a long day, wondering what to write in this post to sum up the very best parts of my day to share on CowgirlDiary.com, and I’m not coming up with a whole lot of words. I went for a horseback ride this evening with JoAnn. It was a beautiful, windy, fall day…the kind of day that just beckons. I stuffed my old camera in the hip pocket of my jeans and away we went. Basically, it was a super fun ride. And the rest, I’ll just say with pictures….
I told a customer at work yesterday that I have “Horse Radar”. He looked at me funny…and I explained that I had seen his wife out trail riding the other day along a road, and wondered if he was riding with her. He said, “No, that was her daughter and a friend. Why?” I said, “Oh, I was just jealous, and told my husband—see? That’s what we should be doing today!” He said, “You have horses?” I said, “Yes, but I don’t get out to ride much.” He said, “Well, you should talk to my wife, she’s always looking for somebody to go riding with.” Phone numbers were exchanged, Facebook friend requests sent, and now his wife and I are planning to go ride at some trails as soon as we can!
I attended a training clinic several years ago, put on by a good friend of mine, Kevin Wescott, a horse trainer from west-central Nebraska. It was a general horsemanship clinic, where local people brought their own horses and asked Kevin to help them through issues they were having, or give advice on their riding, and so on. I was there with my mare Daisy, whose behavior at this clinic you might remember from my previous blog post. But aside from that, I observed something at this clinic that has stuck in my mind ever since.
I’ve been mulling a bit lately, over the horse ownership thing again. I’ve mentioned before that I feel guilty about owning horses and not spending much time with them, aside from feeding time. I confess that it’s been about three months since I’ve ridden….in fact, I can’t even remember the ride at all, or when it was. I have a pretty good excuse for not riding any broncs, though….I’m pregnant with our third child.
Most of us horse lovers have been inspired by horses and riders in the movies at one point or another. Whether it was growing up watching Bonanza or seeing Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken for the first time, those horses and the people who rode them made a big impact on us and deepened our interest in becoming a rider or owning our own horse someday. There are just a few things that have crossed my mind when watching some of the Hollywood-style riding, and wanted to comment for the benefit of the total beginning horse enthusiast.
Last weekend we took our cows out west where I grew up. From here, it’s a four hour ride in a car…a six hour ride for a cattle pot and truck and trailer with seven people packed into the crew cab. Saturday was one long hectic day. But it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time, because to me it meant going home.
One of my biggest complaints about spring is the mud in our barnyard. The mud wouldn’t bother me so much, but I have to wear my muck boots. And my muck boots wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t hate how they feel…they feel yucky because my jeans bunch up inside them and actually wear blisters on the sides of my ankles as I’m walking and working around the farm. But I recently learned about a neat little cure-all for riding jean bunchiness. It’s called the BootStroot, and I’m giving away a BootStroot set right here on this blog post!
I am a writer, and one of my favorite things to do is to tell a good story. I have often said that getting a horse is like getting a brand new notebook. You open it up, and it’s blank….just waiting to be filled in with adventures, experiences, knowledge, sentiment, good memories, colorful adjectives, and whatever else comes your way. So it is when you get a horse….I went for a ride with Cowboy Dad yesterday. We had talked about trailering out to some trails or something, since we had a whole afternoon and warm sunny weather.
Today was amazing. Well, if you don’t count the fact that it’s the beginning of January and still a little cold for my taste. And if you don’t mention that today was my husband’s first time to get bucked off a horse. It was sunny with no wind, a Sunday afternoon, and he said we’re crazy if we don’t go for a horse ride today. So we did. Here’s how it went:
Snow is coming! The kids are excited with the prospects of sipping hot cocoa, listening to Christmas music, and watching the heavens swirl their magical crystals into sparkling drifts over our front steps. I’m not looking forward to doing chores in subzero temperatures, no matter how pretty the snow is. When the water tanks freeze over and I can’t peel the layers of frost-covered hay off of my big round bales to feed my horses, winter isn’t fun anymore. If only we could enjoy the snow without it being so cold…..
It’s that time of year when people like to ponder the good things that have come their way. I see the trend of daily status updates on Facebook, where everyone is counting a blessing along with each day of November, and while it is inspiring to read their grateful comments, I haven’t joined in the fad yet. I have looked at the blank where I’m supposed to type my comment, and ten minutes later I’m still sitting there, overwhelmed with my thoughts….the blank just isn’t big enough. I have so much to be thankful for.
You might be surprised at how often I question my own common sense when it comes to owning horses. We have five now, and that puts both me and Cowboy Dad in a sort of panic to justify the expense and trouble that we go to in order to keep them. I think many of my readers believe that I live on a massive expanse of Western range, complete with howling coyotes and grazing cattle, where I train horses all day, bake my family a luscious dinner in my country kitchen, and ride off into the sunset with the love of my life. Well, I hate to ruin that impression, but to tell it a little more accurately….
Our weanling stud colt is just a handful. I had forgotten what it’s like having a horse this young, but he is certainly a lot of trouble. The main problem is that he has got too much energy and not enough experience. Watching him careen around the farm full-tilt is entertaining until you see him run into something. Owning this colt is like having a teenager who just got his own drivers license and is anxious to demonstrate his skills. It’s exciting, it’s entertaining, it’s often hilarious…..but it’s also scary.