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Subject: A page from an 87 yr. Old horsewoman's handwritten Journal: 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, 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. Atleast, 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 horse 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 trail head 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 companions, 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.
"My treasures do not chink or glitter, they gleam in the sun and neigh in the night."
Horses don't have horse problems, they have people problems!

1 comment:

  1. Sam,
    I so enjoy reading your newsletter and blog spot (I think this is my "maiden" blog comment). As I read through all your stories and thoughts, I realize how blessed all of us "sick" women are to have had you touch our lives and how lucky our horses are as well. You are a truly gifted teacher.

    All my life I dreamed of having my own horse. It took me 40 years, and another 5 before I found you and your wisdom. Both me and my horses are still learning and practicing what we have gleamed from your teachings. I feel like I haven't even begun to scratch the surface and look forward to learning more from you this Summer.

    Safe travels back to Sandpoint (there is currently no snow in the valley, just lots and lots of mud).

    Ride on,


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