Friday, February 11, 2011

Riding for the love of riding.

I made that statement at the end of my last post and it sent my mind into a place in time in my life when things were much different and horses were the only thing that mattered to me.  When a halter and a lead rope were the only horse accessories I had or even cared to have.  Go back even farther than that and when ever my Dad brought our horse out of his pasture I would stand there and beg for a ride even after I had already had one or two or three.  A time when conformation and proper training didn't really matter to me.  Or even better I didn't even know the difference.  But then I got edumacated and found out that all that wasn't good enough.  That is really kind of sad.  I hope that I never forget where my love for horses started because then I can always remind myself that if I have my horses then the rest of that "stuff" doesnt really matter.

So way back parents had horses before I was born.  We lived on 18 acres in the country in southwest MI.  We had very little money but none of that ever really comes to light until later in life when you look back.  Because as a little girl I didn't care about anything except for playing outside in the woods with my best friends, Winjan (our arabian gelding, who was voice trained to walk, trot and canter but had a wild streak to say the least) Silver Bullet (my goat and trusty side kick) and Amos(our geman shepherd mix).  With those three in my life nothing else really mattered to me.

I wish I had a picture handy of Winjan but next time I go to my parents house I will be sure to come home with some pictures of our times together.  I did everything with those animals.  On a beautiful summer day I would wake up and pack a lunch in a little canvas gym bag.  I would run out and put that gym bag on my goats(Bullet) back and the arm loops around his legs (hey I was young and resourcful).   I would jump on my horse and take off for the woods.  See Silver Bullet followed me EVERYWHERE I went.  Whether I was walking or riding it didn't matter if I went, he followed.  So I guess you could say I used him for my little pack  There were miles of trails and fields and country roads that we frequented.  But our most frequented and my absolute favorite trail was about a 2 mile trail back to a small little lake.  I could catch the trail at the edge of our field and it was usually kept pretty clear.  I think just by neighbors that walked it frequently.

I can go through the trail step by step in my head.  Every smell, every tree.  Each hill and all the animals that would scamper by, inevitably spooking my goofy horse.  I can remember the extremely narrow parts of the trail that for a walker were suited just fine but for my (probalby ALWAYS overweight) horse and me would sometimes end with some scrapes and briuses.  I have a scar to this day from cantering that exact trail and my horse ramming my leg into one of those said trees.  It was a beautiful winding trail.  Mostly wooded and going up and down hills. There was one area where it turned into all pine trees.  You could smell them before you even approached them. Then once through the pine trees it opened up into a sunny grassy area for just about 50 feet with a few young sumac trees in the midst.  Each year made for new obsticles depending on which dead trees had not made it through another harsh MI winter.  That gave us ample opportunity to try out our jumping abilities.  Abilities that consisted of running and grabbing a hunk of mane a flying.  I distinctly remember deer legs hanging from trees on the trail.  I am not sure what that was all about but I am assuming the hunters had a reason behind it.  For me there was not a need to have the trail marked even in the early spring months when people hadn't yet been out to clear the path I could find my way.  I knew that trail like the back of my hand.  When you finally made it to the lake it opened up to a wider trail on a hill looking down to the lake.  Now this lake was not clean enough to swim in.  Though that would have been nice but it was pretty to walk around and to walk down to the edge to see the frogs jumping and playing.  If you turned left coming out of the trail it would take you down to an open area with a small pier going out into the lake.  If you turned right it went up a hill and at the top of the hill with the lake to your left it opened up into a small field completely surrounded by woods with the sun shining through to break up the shaded, shadowed life of the forest.  It was something out of a book.   I believe it was a hay field and often grown up with clover to my knees.  This made Winjan a happy little horse!  I would find my perfect sunny spot in the middle of that field with my horse grazing near by and sit with Bullet to eat my lunch.  I always packed enough water to share with Bullet.  On one side of the field there were always bee hives buzzing with bees though the bees never seemed to care that we were invading there field.  After a nap in the afternoon sun depending on how we were feeling we would either head over to the much larger hay fields on the other side of the lake and take a gallop or head back down the trail.  Never in a hurry but taking in everything around us to eventually make our way back to reality...Until tomorrow!!  This was what made me fall in love with horses, riding and country life in general.  There are many people who wonder why I would choose to live where I do and how I do because of the expense and work even my husband doesn't "get it" but if you had those types of experiences on a daily basis as a child you too would feel that no other life would or could even be satisfactory.  If I can provide even a fraction of that experience for my children then I have done them a tremendous favor!

Man just the trip down memory lane has made my heart yearn to go back.  Maybe not back just to that trail but to those simple, care free days just one more time...


  1. I'm with you on that one! This brought back so many wonderful memories. I was exactly like you. I had my Appaloosa pony Lady, my two German Shepherds and my little Pygmy goat Tessa. We had so much fun going for trail rides. :D I wish I could go back to those carefree days too.

  2. How wonderful. I felt like I was right there with you. Thanks for a beautiful story of simpler days. You were very lucky.

  3. I grew up on an island off the coast of North Carolina and I rode semi-wild Banker Ponies. We got on them by coaxing them to the fence with a carrot and then hopping on. Riding bareback and hearing the wind off the ocean and the smell of salt water is heaven for me. Can't replicate that here in Atlanta and my husband would NEVER move to a farm. At least the barn is my little piece of country life in the middle of suburbia!


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