Yes, I Ride

Yes, I ride. That seems like such a simple statement. However, as many women who ride know, it's really a complicated matter. It has to do with power and empowerment. Being able to do things you might have once considered out of reach or ability.

I have considered this as I shovel manure, fill water barrels in the cold rain or snow, wait for the vet/farrier/hay delivery, change a tire on a horse trailer by the side of the road, or cool a mare out before getting down to the business of drinking a cold drink after a long ride.

The time, the money, and the effort it takes to ride calls for dedication. At least I call it dedication. My ex-husband calls it 'the sickness.'  It's a sickness I've had since I was a small girl bouncing my model horses and dreaming of the day I would ride a real horse. Most of the women I ride with understand the meaning of 'the sickness.' It's not a sport. It's not a hobby. It's what we do, and, in some ways, it is who we are as women and human beings.

Yes, I ride. I hook up my trailer and load my mare. I haul to some trail head somewhere, unload, saddle up and I ride. I breathe in the air, watch the sunlight filter through the trees and savor the movement of my horse. My shoulders relax. A smile rides my sunscreen-smeared face. I adjust my helmet and let the real world fade into the tracks my horse leaves in the dust.

When I ride, time slows. Flying insects buzz loudly, looking like fairies. My mare flicks her ears, swishes her tail and then moves on down the trail. In summer, I can smell my horses' sweat and it's perfume to my senses. Time slows. The rhythm of the walk and the movement of the leaves become my focus. My saddle creaks and the leather rein in my hand softens with the warmth.

I consider the simple statement; Yes, I ride. I think of all I do because I ride. Climb granite slabs, wade into a freezing lake, race a friend through the mountains all the while laughing and feeling my heart in my chest, sometimes screaming "slow down, wait for me." Other days just the act of mounting and dismounting can be a real accomplishment.

Still, I ride. No matter how tired or how much my seat bones or any of the numerous body parts or injuries hurt. I ride. And I feel better for doing so. The beauty I've seen because I ride amazes me. I've ridden out to find lakes that remain for the most part, unseen. Visit sand arroyos after a new snow fall, marvel at canyons, red and beautiful, some beside rivers full and rolling; these are the scenes I see in my dreams. Red tailed hawks on the wing, deer and antelope on the move, even a black bear in the far distance, add to the empowerment and joy in my heart.

I think of the people, mostly women, I've met. I consider how competent they all are. Not a weenie amongst the bunch. We haul 30 ft rigs. We back into tight spaces without clipping a tree. We set up camp, adjust the high-lines and fasten up the horses. We cook and keep safe. We understand and love our companions, the horse. We respect each other and those we encounter on the trail. We know that if you are out there riding, you also shovel, fill, wait, and doctor. Your hands can get a little rough and you often travel without makeup or hair gel. You do without to afford the 'sickness' and probably, when you were a small girl, you bounced a model horse while you dreamed of riding a real one. Now you are there.

Yes, I ride. --Author Unknown--

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