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Between sales calls for the Chamber and getting my hair and toes attended to, I stopped by the barn. Heather had called to say she has a 63-year-old woman who reminded her a lot of me. The woman has always owned and ridden thoroughbreds and though she came to Heather for ‘lessons’ there was nothing she and her lovely, quiet, bomb-proof school horses could teach her. She wondered if I would be interested in a new partial share of Night. Since Night’s little most recent little girl has acquired her own horse, and I only get to ride one or two days a week, life has been dull for the Head Mare of the Pasture. I thought a new partner would keep her sharp and muscled.

Diane was sitting under the pear tree in the barnyard as I strode up. I was dressed for work in ballet flats, a billowy seersucker shirt and leggings. (Not appropriate barn attire in any circumstances.) She was my build and size, dressed in thin riding tights and boots. I gave her a quick background on Night as we walked to the pasture. “She started life as a barrel racer in Texas, saw some abuse along the way and my daughter fell in love with her at summer camp 12 years ago. She has since fox hunted, vented and the only thing I’ve never asked her to do is pull a cart.”  As we strode down the hill I realized I could never reach Night gracefully amid the mud in ballet flats. Diane took the halter and headed into the herd to extract Night. We were all headed back up the hill when the other mares realized the Lead Mare was leaving and they came charging up behind us, herd-mentality when I was hoping for a calm  and loving introduction.

Later I was almost giddy when I entered the salon. Three hours of total girly submersion AND my poor feet might finally be able to see the light of day in sandals! I eased into one of those thrones designed for a pedicure, you know the ones with the foot bathing tank and the stool for the person who will be servicing your tired feet? Yes, this particular chair design should be upgraded to a living room model in every home.

Then I looked at my feet.  And my shoes. “I’m really embarrassed here. I had to make a stop at the barn and I’m afraid there’s a bit of dirt and dust.”  And then it starts. Mention a horse and everyone has a story, usually the same story. The top three, starting at the low-end in popularity are:

3. “I was at a barn once and a horse bit me.”

2. “I was going to ride a horse but it stepped on my foot.”

and the #1 most popular tale of equine adventure – “I was put on old Jake who was supposed to be the slowest horse in the barn. First he ran me into a tree then he high-tailed it for the barn and I was taken off with!”

I listen, I commiserate and I dust off my shoes with pride.

Working at the racetrack in Trinidad, 1980

Yep, that’s me rocking an Aerosmith t-shirt while working as a groom at the racetrack in Trinidad

12 comments on “I once rode a horse…

  1. Doppleganger says:

    You can take the girl out of the barn, but you can never take the barn out of the girl…thank goodness!

    1. I don’t know how many times I’ve stood in line at the grocery store and suddenly realized I was a spectacle in my boots and horse-hair covered clothes…

      1. Doppleganger says:

        You and I have ALWAYS been fashion icons! Don’t forget the tight britches….way before leggings and tight pants and tall boots… ahead of our time…

      2. So true, Dopp! Love you!!

  2. Touring NH says:

    Sounds like Night has a new friend. I rode a horse once – oh wait, you were there!

    1. And you did a great job, Laura! No bites, smashed toes or gallops back to the barn!!

  3. True… I actually had to sit on a horses head (while it was on the ground) to prevent it from rearing and injuring itself. We all survived. 🙂

    1. OK Eric, there’s a story I hadn’t heard lately!! Thank you!

      1. It was late in the day, getting dark. I was apprenticing as a Standardbred (harness racing) trainer. The horse and sulky went down on the track with hopples still on. The driver had to run back to the barn to get some releasing equipment but we knew the horse would try to rise, quite possibly injuring itself with the sulky still affixed. Scared the bejesus out of me, out there alone in the cold when all I could barely see was a mist cloud from the horses nostrils. Longer story but you get the gist. 🙂

  4. Marie Keates says:

    No horse stories of any kind but I have often looked down at my feet and realised I’m caked in mud from walking in the woods.

    1. Mud is a good thing, probably more acceptable than horse manure!

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