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Spring Riding Season….

For you this might just be another day at work, an operation, one of many you do today.  Please do your work well, for me, it’s the rest of my life.

I trail ride. That seems like such a simple statement. However as many women who trail ride know it is really a complicated matter. It has to do with power and empowerment. Being able to do things you might have once considered out of reach or ability.

IMGP0365I 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 interstate, or cool a horse before getting down to the business of drinking a cold beer after a long ride.

The time, the money, the effort it takes to trail ride calls for dedication. At least I call it dedication. Both my ex-husbands call it ‘the sickness’. It’s a sickness I’ve had since I was a small girl bouncing on my wonder horse  and dreaming of the day I would ride a real horse. Most of the people I ride with understand the 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 human beings.

I  trail ride. I hook up my trailer an d load my gelding. I haul to some trailhead somewhere, unload, saddle, 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 crosses my sunscreen smeared face. I pull my ball cap down and let the real world fade into the tracks my horse leaves in the dust.

I think of all I do because I trail ride. Climb granite slabs, wade into a freezing lake, race a friend down a gravel bar, 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 seat bones or any of the numerous horse related injuries hurt. I ride. And I feel better for doing so.

The beauty I’ve seen because I ride amazes me. I’ve ridden out to find lakes that remain for the most part, unseen. Caves, dark and cold beside rivers full and rolling are the scenes I see in my dreams. The sidewalk at Caney Mountain, AR, bald eagles, wild hogs, and hunting dogs all bring satisfaction to the soul.

IMGP0341

I think of the group I travel with, mostly women and  consider how competent they all are. Not a weenie among the bunch. We haul 40 ft rigs, we back into tight spaces without clipping a tree. We set up camp. Tend the horses.We cook and keep safe. We understand and love our companions, the horse. We respect each other and those we encounter on the trail. We know that if you are out there riding, you also shovel, fill, 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 wonder horse while you dreamed of riding a real one.

Happy season – 2019 I live to ride again and hope to see you on the trail.

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