For the most part, I believe horses are noble animals, and I’m sure they had a lot to do with making this country what it is today. Yet, my experience riding them has not always been satisfactory.
My first attempt came when I was about eight years old. A neighbor had a sorrel saddle horse that was too lazy to be dangerous, so he let the neighborhood kids ride him.
I avoided it as long as I could, but one day he talked me into mounting the horse with his daughter. He hadn’t bothered to saddle the animal, so we were to ride bareback. I was in front and was told that all I had to do to make the horse go was to gently tap him in the ribs with my feet. It turned out that the horse’s back was wider than my legs were long and I couldn’t reach any ribs. I gently tapped his back and he just stood there, occasionally dipping his head to eat grass.
Thirty-five years or so later, neighbors in Wichita who owned a ranch near Cripple Creek, Colo., invited Dorothy and me to spend a few days there with them. Part of the entertainment was to help move a herd of cattle to better grass about five miles from the pasture they were in.
It hadn’t occurred to me that we would be doing this from the backs of horses. The ranch foreman found horses for everyone, including me. Unfortunately, my legs were about six inches too short to reach the stirrups, meaning I couldn’t stand up or otherwise control my position relative to the horse.
My horse was trained to immediately chase any cows or calves that strayed from the herd and bring them back with authority. If the wrangler on his back could not get his butt off the hard leather saddle, that was his problem.
She took me under hanging limbs, through prickly cactus, down steep hills, all at top speed, with me bouncing up and down all the way. When we got back to the house, I could barely walk and could not sit down for sure.
A few years later, we were traveling in Mexico with Dorothy’s brother and sister-in-law and their and our kids.
We came upon a tourist attraction aptly named Horse Tail Falls. There was a restaurant near a steep hill that featured a bosa nova band and a bunch of horses and donkeys. For a price, you could walk up the hill and ride back down on a horse or donkey.
I chose a horse that raced down the hill. The quicker he got down the quicker he could eat some hay and go to sleep.
Loooking back, I would have enjoyed the bossa nova more than the dash down the hill.
Contact Ted at email@example.com.