Saturday, May 17, 2008

Today I rode a horse.

It was incredibly exciting. I have poison ivy spreading over one arm and a weird sunburn on my forehead, and it was worth every second. I'm riding some horse some where tomorrow, too.

I woke up this morning with every intention of wheedling some barn friend into letting me ride his or her horse. (I'd called my uncle Friday and made plans to go see my very own horses Sunday, because he wasn't going to be home today.) I gathered up my trusty dog and drove out to my old barn. James was there! Yahoo! I said hi to Jen and some other people, then gave James a big hug and we talked for a minute. Then he asked if maybe I wanted to ride today? I said "Find me a horse and let's go!"

I got to ride Rascal. I actually feel really special. Rascal is hands-down the best gaited trail horse at the barn. (Aside from Champ, of course, who doesn't always count as gaited cause he likes to trot and canter too much.) Anyway, James rode Girlie (Surprise's dam) and we took off.

Rascal did pretty well. He tested me twice, trying to break gait and canter, but they were both really predictable and I just checked him back a bit and told him "nuh-uh" and he quit. I had good brakes and steering, but very little gas pedal. For one thing, I'm not his person and we both know it. And for another, I wasn't wearing spurs, and for better or worse he's trained to gait to spur taps. But he listened to me, and he behaved really well on a loose rein and watched where he was going and didn't act spooky, so I was really happy. We just followed along beside or behind James and Girlie, going as fast as they were going.

We talked and talked. And we saw a bit of wildlife - two snakes, a huge frog, and a bunch of turtles. The weather was glorious. Maybe 80, bright sunshine and big puffy clouds and just enough breeze to make it not too hot. The trails were terrible, but at least they were actual trails and not underwater paths!

I learned a few things. The most important thing I learned was that my saddle is vastly superior to all other saddles. James rides in an old roping saddle which is constructed out of bricks and wood, cunningly decorated to look like a saddle. It's got a godawful wide twist. The stirrups were a notch too long and I foolishly didn't shorten them before we headed off, so I couldn't get much relief from them.

But I also learned that I still do have a decent seat. In fact, I can still ride. I haven't forgotten how! Wooo!

And I learned, like I do every year, that the sun is bright and hot and makes me burn a couple times before I tan. No, I don't wear sunscreen. I hate it. I hate it as much as I hate Off. The feeling of goop on my skin is horrible and gives me the heebiejeebies, and yall can all laugh and say you told me so when I get skin cancer (or West Nile, or Lyme disease) in 5 or 10 years. All I can say is that I don't try to protect myself from the sun, but I don't try to tan either. My shoulders and arms and face burn, then tan. Everything else stays luminescently white.

Tomorrow if I wake up in time I'm going by my parents to get my saddle and bridle, then down to Como to visit my lazy mules. If I don't get up in time then I'll just tie a rope on Champ's bridle and ride him around the pasture bareback. Life is so much more wonderful when I've had my "horse fix."

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