There is no such thing as ‘just a trail rider’! We dauntless trail riders who live for putting our faces into our horse’s mane and breathing deeply, for the feel of the leather as we ease into the saddle, and for the sense of peace that comes through the tempo-ed footfalls of that familiar partner are a different breed of rider and there are many of us. We whose main competitor day in and day out is our yesterday’s self, are constantly learning just as our equine partners do, about the world out there… and sometimes it’s not for the faint of heart.
There’s bear, deer, fox, wild dogs, the occasional loose horse, goats, cattle, monsters in the form of plastic bags on the nefarious wind, and if that isn’t enough, there’s mud, water, ice, snow, sand, hills, snakes, anthills, bees, horseflies, rock faces, complicated trail systems, ditches, and rain-slick pavement. No carefully mapped arena for us. Our circles are wider and less round, and we hope we complete them because otherwise, where is the trail head again?
We ride to achieve different things. That doesn’t make us, “just” anything. And a good riding buddy is worth her weight/plus her horse’s weight in gold.
Not every horse can be a safe trail horse, and it takes a good rider to make him/her so. Even a good horse goes jumpy with a nervous rider. Getting that horse to calmly take on new challenges takes a confident rider, one who doesn’t lose self-control even when the conditions call for extreme caution.
My hat or helmet goes off to trail riders. And every single day of my life, I am grateful for those horses that not only take me out on the trails, but bring me home safely… again. But I have to say a special word about my Carmagirl, who reads my mind and complies without fuss, and for my Maps whose passion and work ethic make riding a hoot! Not ‘just’ trail horses – those two are harmony on the hoof. I am blessed.
(Hey Joan and Joe-Joe, you sound like you’re doing fine with your new horses. Good to hear.)
Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...