I used to ride horses.
I used to look down on people who said that. I thought a horse or fifty
would always be in my life. And here I am. Without a horse. Never mind
fifty of them.
It's too bad, really, because at one point I was a very good rider.
Never a very good showman, tho... I rode in a few horse shows and I
always placed in the middle of the class. But give me a rough ride or
a bucking bronco, and I could definitely stay on.
I started riding lessons in grade school and continued on through
high school. Once a week, Saturday mornings. Equine Science was my
major in college and eventually the riding lessons got bumped up to
twice a week. But nobody learned how to ride with only one or two hours
a week on a horse. Unfortunately, your average human can't afford more
My first summer job was at a ranch. I took care of about 50 or 60 horses
and various other barnyard pets. Whenever I had extra time, I was allowed
to ride one of the owner's horses. I usually rode Marty, a five year old
Saddlebred with a bum ankle which made for a bumpy trot and a reluctant
canter. I worked there for two summers, but I still only averaged one
or two hours of riding a week.
I was a wrangler the next summer. I took tourists out on horseback around
the trails at Cherry Creek Park in Denver. It was a very intense job.
Very demanding, both physically and emotionally. In the thick of it,
it was twelve and fourteen hour days, six days a week. Pushing wheelbarrows,
throwing bales of hay, carrying 50 pound plus western saddles across the
paddock and saddling up 11 or 12 horses every day. I muscled out very
well. I think the word my friend used was "Buff." :)
Not to mention all the riding. Up to 6 or 7 hours a day, I spent on horses.
That's where I really learned how to ride. But the other aspects of the
job burned me out. All that work, every day. Dealing with people
constantly, having to instruct and lead individuals as well as large groups.
And my accident prone self came through, almost to the point of getting me
The stresses added up over the summer and I realized I didn't want horses
to be permanent part of my life. I kept my major. Because I felt the pressure
to graduate, mostly. But also because I never found anything else I was good
at. Like the horse shows, I am mediocre at pretty much everything.
I had lost interest in the art classes because of my average talent.
I was just passing the creative writing classes. I had given up my Math
minor after I had to grovel to get that "C" in Calculus. And
the Computer Science minor classes were progressively getting to be too much
I see now that I was completely lost and was simply sticking with what I knew
best. I kept with it, but the pointlessness of my Bachelor of Science
in Equine Science still amuses me.
And now? I keep thinking when I get rich I will buy a horse. Pay someone
else to take care of it. Stop off at the barn on my way home from work and
ride every day for an hour or so. Because I did love the riding part...