Git on that horse

I have been writing here occasionally about my horse experiences, old and new. I decided to make a new blog about that because this blog has in the past mostly been about my motorcycle riding adventures. Sometimes those who like one do not like the other, so I decided to separate the two interests. If you are enjoying or curious about the continuing saga of my quest to regain my former (equestrian) self, I invite you to subscribe to my new (additional) blog here: https://arabianhorselover.wordpress.com I will be continuing this blog to chronicle my motorcycle riding adventures as they unfold. I am not giving up my two-wheeled mounts! Thank you so much for your continued support. – Jo

Horses on my mind

After last week, a week of being immersed in the Arabian horse show experience, I am left again with many regrets that I was no longer a part of that life. Way back in the ‘80s when I came to Arizona, I should have done something about this. But, I didn’t.

I left my horses in Wisconsin in 1980, basically because my parents wanted to retire. The story has been told here previously. I wish my parents would have waited a little while, maybe a year or two, so I could get myself together (I was just a kid) and figure out how I could make happen what I wanted to, which was to be an Arabian horse trainer. I understand wanting to retire to someplace warm, but I wish they would have listened even a little bit to what my dream was.

Back then, parents told their kids what to do, and the kids didn’t have a choice. There wasn’t any respect for kids as people, people who had their own vision for their future. We were just “kids,” an inconvenience. Not like now, when parents cater to their kids’ every desire. I had to do what I was told to do, which was move to Arizona.

The timing was bad. In the 1980s, after the heyday for Arabians in the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, everything went down the toilet. People put a lot of money into those horses, and tax loopholes existed so Arabian horses used in breeding operations could be depreciated. There were also many other ways that owning Arabians could be financially beneficial. After the tax reform act of 1986, this all came to an end. Many people who could barely afford to get into it to begin with were left holding the bag. The bottom fell out of everything, and almost every owner or trainer was affected in some way.

I tried to get into the Arabian circle in Arizona during that time, but since I no longer had a horse, I wasn’t able to ride and show anymore, and therefore wasn’t able to prove my worth. When I talked to people at the big farms, no one knew who I was. In the Midwest, the response would have been, “Oh, you’re the girl who …” When I got here, it was, “wait, who did you say you are??” I was nobody, that’s who.

People do not get to pick which “talent” they will be born with, and mine was working with horses. Since I left the horse business behind, I have engaged in an unending progression of sports and activities to try to find something to fill the void left by the horses. Not surprisingly, nothing did.

This past week, when I went to the annual Scottsdale Arabian horse show, I hadn’t been to a real horse show in a long time, probably since the last one I showed in, maybe in 1978(?). I suddenly wanted to go, and, as a bonus, I found out that my friend and mentor, Juli, was going to be there, too. I’ve already written the story of our reunion, and really, in some ways, even though I love her and I loved being temporarily back in that world, it made me feel worse. Again, I acutely felt the loss.

I noticed how the horses were bigger, flashier, the shapes of their heads more exaggerated than what I remembered. The breeding over the last 30 years has changed things. The competition in the ring was tough; the days of having an $800 “backyard” horse were long gone. Hard work, talent, and a little bit of luck would no longer be the only things I would need. All that means, though, is that I would have had to work harder. But I know now that I wouldn’t have been sorry in the long run.

Being at the show took me right back to where I had been, and I had the same feelings of never wanting it to end, even though I was not riding. I watched the classes that I would have been in, and it was almost like I was in it myself. I was looking at the classes as a competitor. I was re-absorbed into the horse show culture as if I had never left.

As the show ended last week, I even had that tired, depressed feeling I used to have at the end. But back then it was only temporary, since I would usually get to compete in another show within the next week or two. This time, I will have to wait another year for the next Scottsdale show, and I almost certainly won’t be competing.

This could have been me:

Training horses is the only thing I knew how to do, the only true talent that I have. I think my husband would have even enjoyed the horse life with me once he got into it. It would have been a much happier existence for both of us, especially for me. My horse life would have been better than the long line of meaningless, low-paying jobs that I have had to endure. I did not want a life of suffering through dull days of a 9-5 job inside a claustrophobic building, just wanting every day to end. I was so afraid of that, but sadly, that is what I got.

I hope my schoolkids listen to me when I tell them to do everything they can to find their own talent and capitalize on it so they can have an enjoyable life. Of course kids never understand what that means. I didn’t. Like them, I was too young to understand. I wish I had had more information so I could have made a better decision. I wish I had set up a support system for myself that would have allowed me to stay where I was, or at least return in a couple of years. But I had heard the “we’re moving to (fill in the blank)” statement too many times from my parents to know which one was the real one. By the time I realized that it was real, it was too late. I wasn’t strong (or brave) enough to stand up for what I really wanted.

There is no happy ending (for me) to this story. I don’t own horses, I hardly even get to ride ones that belong to other people (I have to settle for whatever breed that is), and it looks like I will never own a beautiful Arabian English Pleasure show horse again.

And that’s the end.

Memories of a former life

Above: Sculpture at Westworld, Scottsdale, Arizona

I walked into the cavernous building with anticipation, and some nervousness. After all, the person with whom I was meeting was someone I had last seen about 35 years ago. She was such a big part of my life when I was a young girl, and then, abruptly, she was no longer there. I have missed her, and my old life, ever since. I never would have thought when I last saw her that so many years would pass before I’d see her again. What would it be like to reconnect with her, to talk to her once more? I would soon find out!

I first met my friend and mentor, Juli, when I was about 11 years old, and she was 16. We lived in Wisconsin, and my family was just getting into owning, riding, and showing Arabian horses. Almost everything that I know about horses, riding, and showing, I learned from Juli. I was young and impressionable, and I looked up to her so much. I learned more than “horse stuff” from Juli; I learned my work ethic from her, and through our experiences traveling to the horse shows, it awakened the desire to travel and live an adventuresome, gypsy-like existence. I also won a lot when I showed horses, and that was due to Juli’s help.

I arrived early in anticipation of meeting her. I was at the Scottsdale Arabian horse show in Scottsdale, Arizona, near where I now live. Sadly, I had not been to a horse show in years, and when I walked into the Equidome, all the memories and emotions came flooding back. There was a western pleasure class going on in the show ring, and I stood off to the side and watched.

Things had changed, and yet they were still the same. There were the same beautiful horses in the ring, probably even more beautiful than when I was showing. The riders were wearing the same type of colorful clothing, but flashier, with more rhinestones, and the horses’ tack had more silver and adornments. There were few horses in the ring, but that was because the class was a championship class, and these horses were the finalists from other, larger classes.

The young girls that milled around in the spectators’ area where I was were dressed in the usual horse show chic: dressed half for the show ring, and half for the barn, overly made up, their hair perfect, but wearing jeans and old boots. I remembered those times when I had been dressed like that, when I felt like I hardly dared to move for fear of messing up my hair! When I looked at those girls, I saw my own face, but 40 years ago. I thought about how weird it was to think that. Back then, at that age, I couldn’t have imagined what it was going to be like when I became my current age. No one thinks it’s going to happen to them. When you are a teenager, the world beyond the next few minutes doesn’t even exist.

I do know some of what I thought – I thought my life as it was then would never end, that I would always have horses, and would always ride and show. I also could not have imagined my life without those things, nor could I have imagined how quickly it all came to a screaming stop.

When I saw Juli approaching me, I recognized her immediately. I waved. She didn’t see me the first time, so I walked closer. I waved again, and this time she saw me. Her face lit up in a smile, a face I knew so well, but didn’t know anymore. “You look just the same!” she said, kindly lying a little bit.

“You do, too,” I exclaimed! Then we both laughed.

“Not really!” we said. We were the same, but older, and in some ways, it was like the intervening years had not existed.

“Tell me everything that’s happened!” I said, kind of meaning it, but knowing it wasn’t going to be possible in an hour’s time. We both laughed again, like old friends do.

We went to get coffee in the combination vendor and snack area just outside the arena. The classes were over for a little while, and Juli, who was one of the judges, had a break. We got our drinks and found a table.

We talked about horse shows, jobs I’ve had, our families, people we used to know, some that are still around in the horse business. Juli has been a professional trainer all these years, and it was a life that I had wanted. I will always regret that things didn’t work out for me to stay in the Arabian horse world. It hurts me more than anyone will ever know.

An hour and a half flew by, and Juli had to get back to the judges’ platform. It was so hard to hug her good-bye, and wonder when I would get to sit and talk to her again. After we parted, I wandered around the vendors’ booths, looking at show clothing (incredibly expensive now), tack, and all kinds of souvenir t-shirts. I wanted one, but restrained myself from spending $30 on a t-shirt.

I see the shadow of my former self out there in the ring:

Then, I walked back to the arena, and this time there was an English pleasure-type class in the ring. The horses were Half-Arabians, and all looked as if they were half Saddlebreds, always a showy, beautiful combination. They were stunning, and again, I saw myself as I had been so many years ago. I wanted to stay for the rest of the day.

I slowly walked to my car, and left the horse show world behind, at least for now. I wondered again how I could make it happen that I could go back. At this point, I will be lucky to be able to ride a “real” horse again.

I went home, and the rest of my day was spent in a fog of emotion and memories even as I enjoyed a photo shoot. I don’t know what the answer is to my longing to go back in time and “fix” my horse life, because that may not be possible. I want to ride regularly again, but it won’t be the same.

One thing I do know, though, is that I will do my best to not let so much time pass before I see Juli again. Maybe by talking to her and being with her, I can come to some form of acceptance of my fate. But I know myself, I won’t accept anything without a fight. I don’t want to give up the dream.

Where do I go from here? And, most importantly, will I get there before it’s too late?

A ride with Bella

Bella, on a quieter day:

**

Saturday, 9-13-14

My horse riding Saturday didn’t start out too badly. I got to sleep in for 15 more minutes than I did last month, and it is starting to cool down. The downside, though, is, because of the recent heavy rain, the mosquitoes are unbelievable.

When I got to Patty’s house at 6:45 Saturday morning to ride, she was already getting the horses out of their stalls. She said the mosquitoes were bad, and when I looked at the horses, I saw that that was true. They were all over the horses. The sorghum field behind her property had been cut, but there was so much standing water that the mosquitoes were having a breeding extravaganza.

Bella with her fly mask on. It really protects a horse’s face to have these on:

Today I rode Bella, the third of Patty’s horses, and now I’ve ridden all of them. Bella is the horse that ended up in the concrete irrigation ditch a couple of months ago. She is the least trained of all the horses. Another friend of Patty’s, Kathy, arrived about five minutes after I did, and we saddled up. Patty was going to ride Benny and “pony” Rosie, a horse that belongs to a neighbor who is temporarily laid up after shoulder surgery. So, all four horses were going to get out for some exercise. Before we mounted, we all walked down to Rosie’s barn and picked her up. None of the horses were too happy, and they seemed irritable before we even started. Bella backed up a little when I mounted, but not too bad. She was just not happy with anything, nor were the others.

Kathy went up front with Snickers because that is where he likes to be, Bella was in the middle, and Patty on Benny with Rosie on the lead rope were in the back. Bella relaxed a little, but then she was kind of spooky as we crossed busy Greenfield Rd. Once we got over into the “brush” she was calmer, but then we all looked at our horses – they were covered in mosquitoes despite being sprayed with repellent before we’d left!

All of them were very cranky, and Benny was fussing with Rosie because he didn’t like her too close to him. We didn’t go far, and then Patty said, “let’s go back.” I agreed with her! She apologized for the short ride since both Kathy and I have to drive some distance to get to her house, but I did not have a problem with that. At least I got to ride for a little while.

The horses were a little happier when we turned toward home, but the insects were still horrible. Patty said, “let’s go around the (sorghum) field for a lap, and then I can drop off Rosie right before we get back to my house.” Bella was calm, but I also remembered that there was a narrow lane to walk through with a really deep irrigation ditch on the side of it. I wasn’t worried, but I knew it was “there.” Bella was actually okay when she was out front as we turned east, but then Snickers caught up to her and she became irritated again.

As we turned north, Snickers was in front, and Patty was in front of Bella, too, with her two horses. I was aware of the ditch next to me, and then, right in front of me, there were two deep holes in the dirt. Bella shied, and pulled back, starting to back up toward the ditch! I put my left leg into her and straight-reined her away from it. Luckily, she calmed back down and walked forward. The rest of the ride was less tense, but not relaxing at all. I will be honest, when I got to Patty’s gate and dismounted, I was glad.

Done for the day:

I still had a good riding day, and it wasn’t really fair to judge Bella on that ride. It was just an irritable ride for all the horses, and she hadn’t been out for a few days. But, if I were Patty, I would find a way to do some work with Bella. She needs some direction and training, and not just going out on trails. She needs to learn what cues from a rider mean, and how to put her body where it should be. My horses would have been like that, too, if I hadn’t worked hard with them.

After we un-tacked the horses and hosed them off, we put them out in the small pasture behind the stalls. Kathy left, and I helped Patty unload hay bales from her pickup. That was fun, too, because I got a little bit of a workout, and I felt like I was doing something useful for Patty in return for getting to ride her horses every week!

It was still a good riding day, but I continue to look for an opportunity to ride and train Arabians the way I want to.

**

Tomorrow: back to the Taos trip – the last full day at the rally 

Riding a “testy” horse

What are YOU lookin’ at?:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday morning, despite not feeling great, I got up at 5:15 and went over to my friend Patty’s house to ride horses with her. I usually get there at 6:30, and then we get the horses out, groom them, and get them ready to ride.

I was to ride Snickers again, but when I brought the saddle out to put it on him, he pulled back, his eyes rolling. He was already getting upset, and I wondered why. Maybe I was still unfamiliar to him, so Patty put the saddle on for me.

Snickers was already “eyeing” me before I did anything with him:

He was acting nervous and keyed up when I led him out of the get-ready area, and then when I tried to mount, he started to back up and dance around. He was trying to test me. So, Patty suggested a little walk along the edge of the sorghum field to calm him down. During our walk, I had a little chat with Mr. Snickers. As we walked back to the gate at Patty’s backyard, he seemed calmer. But then when I wanted to mount, he started to back up again. I asked him to “whoa,” and he was listening, but he did this a few times, with less backing up each time. Finally, he stood still, and I quickly mounted. He moved forward one step, but then I think he got the message that I wasn’t going to put up with it and stood reasonably quietly while Patty got on Bella. He was not calm, though.

Patty said something to me then that made sense: she mentioned that he had been a roping horse, and whenever the rider sits forward on a roper, the horse starts to anticipate an action. I am mainly an English rider, either saddle seat or dressage, and I think I sit too far forward at times on a Western saddle. The minute I moved my weight back and relaxed into the saddle, Snickers dropped his head and relaxed too.

I know you are thinking why would she get on a horse that was nervous to begin with? There are times when I would not, but I felt that Snickers was going to be fine once I got on him, and he was. I still can “sense” how a horse is feeling, and I thought he was trying to see how much he could get away with. I also think I made him nervous last week when we rode the “urban obstacle course” because I was sitting forward, a little nervous myself, and squeezed him too hard with my leg cues. I am still learning how to ride him, and it helps to know his background in roping.

After we got started on the ride, we immediately had to cross a busy street. Snickers was still a little “nervy,” but he was alright. He always has to look at the curb; maybe it feels too far down for him, but after he looks, he is okay with it. Patty was behind me on Bella, and we were talking to each other for most of the ride.

Sweet-faced Bella:

I think the horses like the sound of our voices. But I also talk to whichever horse I am riding because I like to interact with whoever it is. Snickers definitely needs interaction. And, whoever rides him needs to be somewhat on alert all the time. He definitely has his own strong personality. He kind of reminds me of Victor, the half-Arabian gelding that our family owned when I was 12 years old. He taught me all I needed to know about horse shows. I’m sure Snickers could teach me all I needed to know about roping if I was into that.

One thing that I would do if I owned Snickers is have him do “arena work.” That is the current term for what I used to do in the ring, in other words, training on an oval and using that area for working. For example, I would walk, jog, and lope with him both directions, and work with him on figure eights, and just practice “bending” his body with leg pressure on serpentines or tight circles. That arena time is for working in a controlled area with the horse so he knows what to do when he is cued, and what to expect from his rider. The trail riding should be the icing on the cake. The time I spent with my horses in the ring at my house was training time, and I did it every day to build their stamina, and their muscles. It is a controlled place that doesn’t have a lot of distractions. But I do not own horses anymore, and I am grateful for any chance I get to ride.

Snickers, after the ride. He is a big, athletic horse, which I love:

We got back to the barn after a good ride, the horses were cooled down and un-tacked, and then they got a cool hosing because it is still hot. Another thing I noticed was that there was actual “coolness” in the air when we started riding, a promise of decent weather to come sometime in the future!

I still can’t get the idea of owning a horse again out of my mind. I would just love to work with one horse consistently and have him be mine to train. I can’t help it. We’ll see what the future brings.

Urban obstacle course

Above: Bella (left), me, and Snickers. And behind Snickers is Sophia, one of the chickens.

**

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The theme for Saturday’s horse ride could be “urban exploration,” though not the adventurous abandoned building kind that my friend Robert enjoys. In fact, my urban exploration could actually be called the urban obstacle course because there were plenty of things during my weekly horse ride with my friend Patty to make the horses focus and be very “alert” for most of it.

The sun came up later that morning, at 5:52, much to my relief. The days are shortening, and the sun is moving more and more off top dead center. Thank goodness. At least there is slight relief in sight, but this morning I went out into the heat again. I think if I never had to be hot again in my life I would be so happy. And if the sun stayed behind a thick cover of clouds, that would make me ecstatic.

It was very humid at Patty’s house, the sorghum field directly south of her house attracting tons of mosquitoes that make the horses miserable at night. It’s fortunate that the mosquitoes leave me alone, but the humidity affects me as much as everyone else. Patty’s neighborhood is an island of horse properties, an island of calm, somewhat open land in the middle of urban busy-ness. It wasn’t always that way, of course. All the buildings and streets grew up around her home after she moved there. Now, as you may imagine, it becomes more and more of a challenge to find a place to ride the horses where it is open and safe.

I was on Snickers, a pretty palomino gelding, as I was last week. He is kind of “growing” on me. I’ve only ridden him twice including yesterday, but I like that he has a strong personality and does more than plod along like Benny does. I love Benny for that, but at the moment I like how Snickers is. He is very aware of “everything,” and he has to look at everything carefully. Sometimes he isn’t real sure about what he sees, and has it in the back of his mind that it might hurt him. I can feel when he is about to shy at something, so I start talking to him in a calming voice. It’s amazing how similar dealing with horses is to dealing with kids in school!

We left Patty’s yard at 7:10, and crossed Greenfield Rd. to avoid having to walk on the sidewalk on the east side. We crossed back over to the east side at Ryan Rd. Patty calls this ride the Ryan Loop because of Ryan Rd., and Snickers had been looking at the big sheds and scary things along it before we had even crossed back over Greenfield. His head was up and his ears were forward. The lane was lined with fences on one side, and oleander bushes (poisonous, don’t know why people want to plant them) behind which there was a yard where big trucks were parked. Patty said that sometimes those trucks are running and making a lot of noise, and the horses get upset because they can’t see the source of the noise behind the oleanders. I could see because I was on Snickers’ back and therefore able to see over the bushes.

We came to the first major obstacle – a gate near a canal ditch that was a block wall with a narrow staggered opening. Snickers was going to have to snake his body through it without tearing my knees off. Fortunately, I had known this would come up and had some protection on my left knee that still hurts from the spectacular dirt bike crash last January. I guided Snickers up to it, but then I pushed too hard with my left leg. He jumped through the opening to the other side, brushing my right knee on the block wall to the right. I quickly had him under control, but then Patty had to come through on Bella. A few weeks ago, Bella had ended up in a deep concrete irrigation ditch and was just barely back under saddle. She was lucky she hadn’t broken any bones in that mishap, and I am really amazed that she has recovered so quickly. Anyway, I was worried because Patty couldn’t see me on the other side, and I also worried that Bella wouldn’t go through because she’d seen Snickers leap through then disappear. In a few moments, though, Patty and Bella came through quietly, and all was well.

We walked down the lane next to the ditch, and on either side, dogs were barking and running up to the fence. Both horses were really good about this, though. Snickers was still looking at everything, head up, eyes scanning, ears forward. Then we came to another gate, but this one wasn’t as tight. He went through that one fine, and then we turned south along the canal.

I was thinking about how this ride wasn’t much different from riding in the White Mountains – only the obstacles were different. Instead of rocks, logs, and the possibility of big cats and bears, here in the urban environment there were ditches, electrical boxes, concrete irrigation boxes, big trucks, and dogs. I wondered what my favorite sure-footed mountain horse, Cisco, would have made of all the crazy things here.

We rode south for a while, the cool breeze hitting us at last. The sun was bouncing off the water in the canal and the reflection was super hot. We were all sweating like crazy, but the breeze was somewhat cooling. Then we turned west and were paralleling a busy road with all manner of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicyclists. The horses seemed to be used to it and dealt with it all without being afraid. By this time Snickers was much more relaxed and had dropped his head a bit. It takes a lot of energy to be on alert for so long, and he had relaxed into the ride. Plus, I think he knew he was almost home at that point, so he was focused on that.

Finally, we turned onto the dirt alleyway behind Patty’s property, and soon we were home. As we dismounted, I realized how sweaty the horses were. I’d felt it on Snickers’ neck when I patted him from time to time, but his whole body was drenched by the time we got home. The ride had taken only about an hour, but the hour had flown by, packed with focused, engaged riding. So, it was fun!

Patty and I un-tacked the horses, hosed them down, brushed out their manes and tails, and then gave them treats for a ride well done. At last, the horses were turned out into the pasture area where they relaxed and munched on the lush green grass.

I helped Patty clean up the barn area, and then it was time for me to leave. Despite having to get up very early (for me), I always enjoy my time with the horses, and yesterday was a great day!

A horse of my own?

Wild Bill and Jo 2 140706 600x1066 - Version 2

I confess to having divided loyalties between horses and motorbikes, and thinking deeply again the last few weeks about horse ownership.

It all started when one of my friends mentioned that she had been looking for her next horse on Craig’s List. She said there were a lot of good trail horses out there, and she was tempted to get another one. I thought about that for a while, and the next time I sat down with my laptop, I remembered what she’d said.

After sorting through many ads, most of which showed me again how many people really have no idea what they are doing when it comes to horses, I found a great little horse. What really caught my eye was the expression on his face in one of the photos provided by the owner. I thought, that horse is smart, he is thinking while he is looking at the person taking that photo.

The horse’s name is Jak, he is an eight-year-old bay Arabian gelding, and in the photo he was standing at the edge of a rocky part on a trail. That told me that he was calm enough to be on a trail, and in another photo, he was being used as a packhorse on what looked like a hunting trip, amazing since this guy is only 14.3 hands. In yet another photo, he looked more spirited, showing me that he could be calm when you need him to be but he has enough “spirit” to be enjoyable. I sighed. I love that horse, I thought, but there is NO WAY I am buying a horse.

As you know, I grew up with Arabians, and that is what I would want if I ever got another horse. I have heard all the comments: “That is a suicide horse,” “they are too spooky,” “they are crazy.” But Arabians are what I am used to, and still what I would prefer.

Luckily, I went on vacation the day after looking for horses on CL, so I left town and was on my motorbike for the next week. I found myself still thinking about Jak, though. As I rode my motorbike, many wild dreams flitted through my head, even when I should have been paying more attention to what I was doing. I was thinking about how much fun it would be to go trail riding with my friends on my own horse. Then there was the dream about maybe he would even be good enough to show in western pleasure classes in Arabian shows! I could take him and train him up as I had with my gray gelding, Dom, who became a champion. Jak could be the next chapter in my “horse saga,” a chapter that I hoped was still to be written.

Like I said, wild, improbable dreams.

Soon, I returned from vacation, and came back down to Earth. I didn’t even go on Craig’s List for a few days, and when I did, I could not find Jak anymore. Duh, I thought, a good horse isn’t going to last long. I told myself it’s just as well, I didn’t want to have to choose between horses and motorbikes, because the reality is if I own a horse, the expense is so much greater than owning bikes. It’s not just throw some fuel in, ride it, and then let it sit until I feel like taking it out next time. Horses need constant attention and care.

For now, my friend lets me come over and ride her horses with her. She says they don’t get ridden enough because she has three and can’t ride them often enough. I am “helping” her by riding them. Great! I will take that opportunity and enjoy it. Every Saturday morning I drive over to her house, we groom and tack the horses, ride for about an hour, and then clean up. We will get to ride longer when the weather cools off, but for now I am very happy with being able to do this!

Today I rode her horse named Snickers. Before this week, I rode Benny, a 20+ year-old gelding who moved very slowly. He is nice, and I like him. Riding Snickers was fun today, too, although I had to be more “on alert” because he was looking at everything. I thought he might spook at a couple of things, but I kept talking to him and he was a good boy, too.

Right now, I want my horse life back, but the question is how far do I go to get it? Is it too late? Will I be satisfied with riding other people’s horses? Will I be satisfied not training up a horse for me to succeed with? That was one of the things I loved most when I rode as a teenager – the sense of achievement and accomplishment that I got from working with a horse that could have languished indefinitely hidden in a dark barn. I made him into “something” from “nothing.”

However, given the amount of time that has passed since those wonderful days, maybe it’s best to accept that my “ride” now has two wheels instead of four legs. In my mind, though, it’s still up for debate.