I got up Thursday morning with a little tingle of excitement.  Poured myself a cup of coffee, got out a cooler and threw in some snacks and grabbed my coffee and my jacket and headed to the garage.  Grabbed my boots and saddle and threw them into the back of the car and climbed in and headed down the driveway toward Roy.  As I got to the end of the driveway I thought “I just threw my saddle in the car to go see my horse” and laughed out loud.

I have owned a few horses in my life, but at the age of 40-something as I was cleaning out my closet, I took a good long look at the cowboy boots that I had had since my 20’s, tossed them into the Good Will pile – and then sat down and cried.

The first horse I got to ride was my Grandmother’s horse Sandy.  A very, very tall saddlebred that she would pile 5 or 6 of us kids on and let him babysit while she worked in her garden.  Once in awhile he would decide he had had enough of us, and off toward the barn he would go with us pulling on the rope and yelling whoa at the top of our lungs.  My Grandmother hearing this would start yelling “DUCK” as she knew Sandy was done and if we didn’t duck, we would get scraped off going through the barn door.  The second horse I got to ride was at a dude ranch in Eastern Washington.  His name was Socks and I fell completely in love.  More than once I was removed from his back after I had fallen asleep.  But as soon as I woke up I pitched a fit until they put me back on.  I think I was about 6 years old.  After that I was in my pre-teens and my Aunt had a palomino mare named Babe that she let us ride.  We rode her bareback (no we didn’t have a bareback pad) everywhere we went, and usually double with a friend.  My sister Sharon had horses most of her life and I got to ride with her once in awhile, and I also had a friend who had horses that I rode with, but when I was about 14 my Dad finally said I could get a horse of my own!

His name was Socks and he was a beautiful pinto.  The man who showed him to us had him moving around the arena like a dream.  Single-footing, spinning, sliding stop and when he took the bridle off and slung it around his neck and put him through his paces I was SOLD!  We had a little piece of property in Brier, WA with a tack room, a run-in shed and a pasture, so that’s where he went.  I made plans to meet my friends the next morning at the trails that weren’t too far away.  I had asked the gentleman showing us Socks if he had been ridden in a hackamore or with a back cinch (he had a single cinch and a bridle with a bit).  He hemmed and hawed about that a little but said he would probably be okay.  So I tacked Socks up and grabbed my lunch to tie to the saddle like I had done with every other horse I had ever ridden, and BOOM he went up in the air – deciding it was the plastic bag – I dropped it on the ground and got him calmed down.  I introduced him to it a little slower and he seemed to be okay with it – so I tied it on.  I climbed aboard and we headed down the road – I was happy as a lark!  We got to the trails a little early – so I decided to go ahead and ride on down to my house.  I got about halfway there when a neighbors dog came out from between the bushes barking and Socks jumped sideways out into the street.  He was bucking and I knew I wasn’t going to stay on.  Not wanting to get drug, I kicked my feet out of the stirrups and was launched into the air.  I don’t know how the timing worked so perfectly, but as I came down behind him – he bucked and caught me square in the forehead with a hind foot, breaking my glasses and smashing my head back into the cement.  When I came to, there was a gentleman kneeling next to me asking if I was okay.  My response was – where’s my horse?  It was only then that I realized I couldn’t see very well and he was holding what remained of my glasses.  I got Socks who was trembling but okay and the very nice gentleman walked with us the rest of the way to my house.  I called my Dad to tell him what happened, and like father, like daughter his first words were – is the horse okay?  I spent the night in the hospital with a concussion and the next two days in bed.  I would have stayed inside longer if my Mom had let me, as I looked like a hammerhead fish with a huge bulge out the front and one in the back of my head, a perfect imprint bruise of a hoof in the middle of my forehead and two black eyes.  My sister Sharon (who is an excellent rider and still rides today) decided to take him on and see if she could work with him – he threw her and hurt her pretty good so it was decided his unpredictable explosions just made him too unsafe for us.  He was sold to a guy who was going to work with him, but he ended up selling him to another guy for his daughter and when Socks threw her – the Dad beat him almost to death.  My heart still aches a little every time I think of him.

In order to build my confidence back up – we purchased Sarge.  Sarge was a morgan cross and was the sweetest and gentlest guy around.  He had a little spunk, but nothing a young kid with a little experience couldn’t handle.  I rode him for about a year and he took care of me.  A friend of mine fell in love with him, and when I felt ready, we sold Sarge to her and I got the love of my life…Buck.

Buck was a 16.2hh QH cross with buckskin coloring and the moment they led him out of his stall – I was a goner and I think he felt the same way.  He was gentle enough to throw a bunch of kids on and lead around, put an inexperienced rider on and he would plod like an old man…. but if I decided to gallop across the school field to show off for the boys – off I went.  Buck would then come over look down at me and nicker – “so how cool are you?”  I rode that horse everywhere – downtown, in parades, on the beach and in the woods… I taught him to bow, shake hands and stretch out a little so swinging on bareback was easier (we didn’t have mounting blocks).  The only time we ever got in trouble it was due to my pride – and through those early teenage years I learned alot of lessons from that horse.  I would have had him forever, but family circumstances changed and my dad called me one day to say he had just sold him.  My heart broke.

I didn’t have a horse again until I was in my early 20’s and moved to Eastern Washington.  I found a pretty little appaloosa mare named Tosha and she I became good friends.  We did a lot of trail riding with my sister and she never refused me anything, but we never developed that deep bond.  I decided to let a neighbor breed her to her appaloosa stud and she had the most amazing leopard apploosa colt.  Shortly thereafter, I fell in love (with a human), got married and began that thing called ‘life’ which didn’t allow much room or finances for horses.

So here I am, some 30 years later, driving down the driveway with my saddle in the back of my car, on the way to see my horse.  They are the dream words that left my head the day I got rid of my boots… and now I think I’m gonna go get a new pair.  It feels really, really good.  So good I had to laugh out loud…