Saturday, October 23, 2010

Get Back on the Horse

They say that if you get bucked off a horse, the thing you have to do is dust yourself off and get back on that horse and try again.

That's a great metaphor if you've just lost a computer game, or failed to make a date with the guy/girl you have a crush on, but it's a stupid one if you are actually trying to ride a horse.

Horses are big, dangerous animals. They can bite, they can kick, they can knock you down. If you have a horse that bucks you off, I'm inclined to say that it is no longer a horse, it is dog food on the hoof. A horse that bucks and unseats its rider is a horse that has learned that it can buck and unseat a rider. I don't think it's possible to re-teach a horse that it can't unseat a rider.

My riding buddy, Cathy the Mad Horsewoman, was thrown from her horse, shattering her left arm in the fall. The horse had become increasingly unstable and dangerous as he got older, and found his niche as an unridable horse in a horrible display in which he threw himself back and forth until the momentum flung Cathy from the saddle. The event signaled the end of her riding days. Even on her gentler, older horse, she was afraid of another such fall and injury. I don't blame her.

After nearly two months of not riding, I saddled The Stinky Dink yesterday morning. He was ambivalent about being caught; he was in the middle of breakfast, after all. While I groomed him, I watched for any sign of rebellion. Ditto while I saddled him.

He's a bit fat in the belly area, from lack of work, but when I put my foot in the stirrup, he was unconcerned. We rode out of the yard and down the road with no hesitation or twitch.

We didn't ride long, as I'm out of shape from a summer of riding the front passenger seat of the Vibe, but we had a nice one. Dink only stopped and stared once, at an eight-foot-high stand of grass growing by an irrigation outlet. I let him stand and observe it, and then told him, "You're fine, let's go." We went.

I'm pretty sure that Dink (Lord Duquesne is his real name) is the last horse I'll ever ride. I appreciate his steady golden years even as I head into mine.

No comments: