I Ride

I Ride

13 May 2011

I Ride....p191917_m.jpg

I ride. That seems like such a simple statement. However as many women who ride know... it is really a complicated matter. It has to do with power and empowerment; being able to do things you might once have considered out of reach or ability. I have considered this as I shovel manure, fill water barrels in the cold rain, wait for the vet/farrier/electrician/hay delivery, change a tire on a horse trailer by the side of the freeway, or cool a gelding out before getting down to the business of drinking a cold drink after a long ride.

The time, the money, the effort it takes to ride calls for dedication. At least, I call it dedication. Both my ex-husbands call it 'a sickness.' It's a nice sickness I've had since I was a small girl bouncing my plastic model horses and dreaming of the day I would ride a real horse. Most of the women I ride with understand that meaning of 'the sickness.' It's not a sport. It's not a hobby. It's what we do and-- in some ways-- who we are as women and human beings.

I ride. I hook up my trailer and load my gelding. I haul to some nice trailhead somewhere, unload, saddle up, whistle up my dog and I ride. I breathe in the air, watch the sunlight filter through the trees and savor the movement of my horse. My shoulders relax. A smile spreads across my weathered face. I pull
my floppy hat down and let the real world fade into the tracks my horse leaves in the sand.

Time slows. Flying insects buzz loudly, looking like fairies. My gelding flicks his ears and moves down the trail. I can smell his sweat and it is perfume to my senses. Time slows. The rhythm of his walk and the movement of the leaves become my focus. My saddle creaks and the leather rein in my hand softens with the warmth.

I consider the simple statement: I ride. I think of all I do because I ride. Climb rocky slopes, wade into a lily-pad lake, race a friend across the hayfield... all the while laughing and feeling my heart in my chest. Other days just the act of mounting and dismounting can be a real accomplishment. Still I ride, no matter
how tired or how much my sitter bones or any of my other acquired horse-related injuries hurt. I ride. And I feel a lot better for doing so.

I think of the people, mostly women, that I've met. I consider how competent they all are. Not a weenie in the bunch. We haul 40 ft. rigs, we back 'em up into tight spaces without clipping a tree. We set up camp, tend the horses. We cook and keep our camp neat. We understand and love our companion--, our
horses. We respect each other and those we encounter on the trail. We know that if you are out there riding, you also shovel, fill, bathe, wait and doctor. Your hands are a little rough and you travel without makeup or hair gel. You do without to afford the 'sickness' and probably, when you were a small girl, you bounced a little model horse while you dreamed of riding a real one.

 Resource: Sharing from Back Country Horseman of NC Facebook Page

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Katherine Smitherman


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