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Frames of Time...

057_04 - Horsing Around
Though not as common these days, when I was growing up Westerns were everywhere.

They were on the big screen with big stars like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. They were on TV with the likes of the Cartwrights and Maverick.

It's no wonder I got the cowboy bug early, as the early Polaroid photo shows. However, even though I spent almost a decade in Texas, I was never truly a cowboy. My main experiences in the saddle are pretty low in number.

Aside from the obvious skill I displayed as a youth on a rocking horse, my first ride on a horse more rocking than I wanted. Since we were currently living in Texas, my sister (Carol) and some of her friends decided to go horseback riding. Being the little brother I got to tag along. We all got horses and began to wander along one of the approved trails.

Suddenly, my horse decided it wanted to race to the top of a crest. He took off and flew up a cliff to around thirty feet above the other riders. Once there it stopped. I, however, continued to shake. One or two other riders got up the ridge. After finding me unharmed, they were able to walk the wild mustang back to the ranch where I remained terrified until going home.

Flash forward several decades and I find a beguiling young lady named Rachel. She loves horses and knives (another thing I am not too fond of). But I am fond of Rachel so I attempt to blend into her world. I visit with her at the ranch she boards her horses, the previously mentioned Diamond and Quartz. She discovers my "shyness" around horses and tries to help. Her first attempt, to have me ride Diamond bareback from the exercise area to his stall is not very impressive. But I do stay on his back.

Eventually, thanks largely to Diamond, I relaxed around him and other equines. She worked me with Diamond, so I became relaxed while riding him. Eventually, my main worry was simply falling off.

For our first wedding anniversary we went to a working ranch in Arizona. There, I relaxed, enjoyed the food and helped take care of the critters, ranging from canines to bovines to equines. The final day, the ranch folks noticed I had not ridden a horse the entire time. They insisted I hadn't experienced the ranch unless I rode a horse. Rachel happily agreed.

After some discussion, and explanation of my horse fears, I decided I would take the chance. They found me a nice quiet horse that seemed to like me. Then we began work on the route. It was very hilly, so we looked for something a bit flat. The head of the ranch suggested the route they take the Girl Scouts on. His wife reminded him that route did have some "mounds". Finally, it was decided we would ride out to check a water storage area. Yes, that gully ride was very flat and fine by me.

Our next major ride together was probably another wedding anniversary when we were in Walt Disney World. There we took the horse ride at Fort Wilderness. It was a nice, level ride. It was also pretty bland.

Oddly, I have found I do enjoy riding horses. (I am born in the year of the horse.) The gentle clip-clop motion is relaxing. Feeling at one with such a majestic creature is a soothing form of bonding. Should we win a big lottery prize, I would love to have a piece of property that we could keep horses on. (The sad thing about our time with Diamond is that he had to live off at a ranch, some distance from our home.)

I have even found the perfect horse. It is called a Norwegian Fjord and is only around 13.2-14.2 hands high (54-58 inches for you non-horse folk). That is bigger than a mini (which I am told I would look silly riding), but around pony size of an average horse. Finally, I would be able to ride along without being a mile off the ground. Of course, with Rachel riding a full sized horse next to me, we'll look a bit like Abbott and Costello riding. But at least that sounds funny, not frightening.

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