I had a zillion errands to run today (before the forecasted blizzard hits) including going to the gym and I did bring my camera with me. I’ve seen this bumper sticker on an F250 in the gym parking lot for a while now, and it tickles me every time I see it. I took the photo from far away because the owner was sitting inside where he could see what I was up to.

The owner is a short old man who has lived a very full life and is quite a character (notice I said he’s short and he drives an F250 – you barely see him above the steering wheel). He goes to the gym three times a week, even though he now has to totter in with his oxygen tank. Between him and my friend Ruth who is in a wheelchair and comes to the gym three times a week, I have *no* excuse in the world *not* to go the gym!

I love horses, I grew up riding horses either Western or bareback (I prefer Western) because the horse can gallop with me just hanging on to the reins in one hand and the saddle horn with other hand and it feels like I’m flying along on his back. It is one of the best feelings in the world to ride on a strong, galloping horse.

Then a few years ago my friend got the bright idea that we should learn how to ride English. Alrighty then. There’s no horn on an English saddle. You have to hold a rein in each hand, you have to hold your hands together, and you hang on with your thigh muscles, among many other uptight rules. Not only that I had to wear an equestrian helmet (that didn’t break my heart)

equestrian helmet

and the barn we were going to for lessons had bad horses – one was gelded too late so he had a major attitude problem. Another one was ready for the glue factory and every step she took I thought she was going to collapse in a heap underneath me.

However there was one horse there that loved me. When he saw me come in the barn he got all excited. When I was allowed to ride him I got excited back – he responded to me real good – one time too good and he stopped and I didn’t. I flew over his head and he felt so bad that he came up and put his soft lips on my ear and he blew snuffy kisses through his nose as if to say “I’m sorry I misunderstood you.”

That dressage helmet has been gathering dust in my closet since then, and the only horse back riding I do these days is Western, where I can hang onto the reins with one hand and the horn with the other, and my hair can fly in the breeze instead of being tucked all under a hat like I’m all uptight. Nothing against English riding or English riders – I think it’s beautiful to watch – I just prefer riding Western! And I love the smell of horses, I love horse hair, I love grooming a horse and the way horse hair swirls in certain spots on its body, and I love the soft feel of horse lips as you feed them a carrot or an apple from your hand.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nell
    Jan 19, 2007 @ 17:17:30

    did you ever go back to the ridding school? i love horses too. i also love western ridding too.



  2. Pam
    Jan 19, 2007 @ 17:22:50

    Hi Nell – No I never went to a formal riding school. I just took the English riding lessons. When I was younger my friends and I would ride Western (or bareback) all over the place – fields, forests, etc. I definitely prefer Western. How about you, did you go to riding school? Thanks for commenting!


  3. Mary
    Jan 19, 2007 @ 21:25:48

    Oh, Pam. That was a great story. You need to ride again (western). About 10 years ago, I had one experience with Buck – 16 hands high. I had never ridden a horse alone. I was at a friend’s horse farm and enjoying learning the barn routine and watching the horses graze, grooming, etc. Two teenage boys needed to throw me atop of Buck, on an English saddle, eeekks. Buck started to trot and I held onto his neck for my life. Then I tried a western saddle on a smaller, slower pony and was in heaven. A day later, I was on high doses of Advil and thought I might blow out my thighs.


  4. Pam
    Jan 19, 2007 @ 21:52:53

    Thanks Mary! Oh yeah, Western is the only way for me to ride since that’s what I grew up doing. I guess you have to grow up riding English in order to have the feel of that riding method. Not for me! I used to have really sore thighs after every English lesson. I was very nervous the whole time – not really enjoying myself at all – just doing it for my friend – you know that scene. I always feel bad grabbing onto the horse’s mane – I don’t like my hair pulled, and that’s what I feel like I’m doing to the horse!
    Wow, I’m glad you didn’t fall off Buck when riding English! Did you gallop in the western saddle? It is unbelievably smooth when they start to cantor or gallop – I love it so much! Did you walk like a duck for a while?


  5. Mon@rch
    Jan 19, 2007 @ 22:33:01

    Only was on a horse once when i was a little kid!


  6. Susan Gets Native
    Jan 19, 2007 @ 23:31:26

    I miss horses. I learned how to ride at a farm owned by friends of my parents. No sissy English for me…western, until I was comfortable, and then it was bareback (as long as the adults weren’t around!)
    My favorite was a big black who was like 18 hands (!!!). He was a tank with feet. But wow, could he fly! It was like riding a thunderstorm.

    Know what my favorite part of a horse is? The dip right below their ears, where their neck starts, behind the jaw. I remember my hand fit right into Thor’s.
    I miss horses.


  7. Pam
    Jan 20, 2007 @ 08:59:12

    Mon@rch – Did you enjoy it?

    Susan – I’m sorry you miss horses – so do I! Yeah, we did bareback when the parents weren’t looking. I especially liked the time my friend’s brother took me for a ride – I sat behind him and we floated on air. We had a crush on each other but we didn’t acknowledge it.
    Ohhh, the big black sounds like my kind of horse. I’d ride a Clydesdale if I could get myself around it’s back! I like a sturdy horse!
    My favorite part of a horse besides the neck area like you describe and the stuff I described above is their rear-end. I love a muscular horse butt! I never liked carrying a whip when I rode English to use on the horse butt.


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