My first-horse photos don’t involve spiffy riding outfits, ribbons, helmets and smiling judges. Dang it. That is the planet on which I wanted to live. I resided on the “I Want to Still Be Alive at 5 pm, Please” planet.
In my box of old photos, I found a picture of my first horse: Spitz ‘Em Out, daughter of Chews ‘Em Up. Or “Chewy”, as he was known, on the Pro Rodeo circuit. If you check out her confirmation, you’ll see it lines up perfectly with what she was bred to do.
My parents didn’t know there’s a certain amount of hinting that goes on in registered names. Not horse people. They also came from a generation of “Learn By Doing”. Which I dutifully followed until the hospital bills started rolling in.
Photo #1: Jane is 12, and has finally managed to scrub all the green, yellow and brown out of her white, roaned-out and unspotted, but purebred, Appaloosa. Spitz is four, with 90 days training. By the 16-year-old son of the ranch owner. I’m guessing he invented the bicycle chain mechanical hackamore.
When not hanging out at the above lovely boarding barn, getting thrown on the way to the arena, thrown in the arena, thrown coming out of the arena, or thrown in the pasture, we took advantage of the barn’s natural trail geography…
…and rode in the ditches next to the (live) railroad tracks. That were bordered by barbed wire. I did not yet own a saddle, so all this “riding” (which mostly involved falling off and walking long distances barefoot) was done bareback.
I discovered that Spitzie (I had to call her something that didn’t sound like Phlegm) forgot all about tossing me if I let her flat-out gallop in the ditch and race the trains. My friend Amy, and her horse Fatso, frequently joined us. Fatso was a ranch broke quarter horse, so I was often able to hitch a ride back to the “boarding” facility behind Amy after I fell off.
At times, I would coerce Amy by saying “I don’t feel like walking a lot today, want to go trail riding with me?”
We began noting my progress as a rider by which telephone pole I managed to reach before falling off. We marked them with chalk, so we wouldn’t get confused.
Ah, learning to ride: two telephone poles forward, one telephone pole back.