I used to be very much a horse person. I loved horses as a kid – wanted to spend all my time with horses, so I talked my parents into sending me to horse camp where I learned how to ride. I remember being assigned my horse at the beginning of the week – the one I would ride twice a day. Oh how happy I was when I finally graduated to the more high-spirited horses!
I began of course with the ones that just plodded along. The ones that give the rider the illusion that he or she is in control but in fact there is nuthin’ that’s gonna change that beast’s mind about following the horse-bum in front of it. I swear sometimes those kinds of horses are sleep walking.
Years later as an adult I went back to farm where I had formerly gone to camp and got a job taking out trail rides. The number one rule for guiding a trail is to watch the customers, meaning that as a guide, I’d spend three quarters of my time twisted around in the saddle facing forward but looking back. This includes while trotting and galloping. I remember my first trail – my God was I nervous! Nervous as in I didn’t have a single drop of spit in my mouth nervous. Riding backwards while running turned out to be the least of my worries that day.
You see, every once in a while we’d get a real ass (and I’m not talking about a donkey) go out for a ride. It was normally a young guy who wanted to show off to his friends how skilled he was on horseback. Invariably the ass had no idea what he was doing. Normally we could spot them 100 miles off and stick them on one of the aforementioned plodders. No problem, right? I got one of these guys my very first trail ride ever. And somehow he managed to do the one thing that would get a plodder’s attention.
We had on the farm a thing we called “the gallop strip.” It was a stretch of trail facing away from the barn (because if you gallop a horse in the direction of the barn it ain’t gonna stop) that nine times out of ten the more high-spirited horses would behave themselves on, and the plodders would get up to a trot… which was hilarious when we got one of our macho men on one, because he’d be bouncing all over the place totally out of control. Not so much on my first time out.
My macho man managed to hold his horse back through sheer brutality when everyone else started to run. Me, not being experienced, tried but failed to slow everyone else down (a lesson I quickly learned). So when the plodder, freaked out that his horsey friends’ bums had left without him, he finally bolted. The horse passed the trail line, passed me and took off for the barn. There I was screaming at the guy as he’s getting farther and farther away (with not an ounce of spit which was difficult) to pull back on the reins and stop squeezing with his feet which was what was making the horse go faster, I couldn’t chase him because the rest of my trail would chase me…
Needless to say I ended my first trail ride as a guide in tears. But, as they say, you’ve just got to dust yourself off and get right back on, right? I loved that job; I did it for about five years. And I’ve got a million stories to go with it.
So much for my letter of the alphabet today, eh? Oh wait – one of the synonyms for “high-spirited” is “dashing.” That works. 😀