What Was I Thinking?

Posted by Sharon

Several of my horses run in a field below my house of about 50 acres of bush, banks and pasture. Since I ride some of them every day, I hope they will climb the hill to the house so I can easily catch the one (or more) that I want. Of course that does not always happen. Then I must walk down the hill to catch them and bring them up.

Walking down the hill is not bad; walking up is another story. It's a steep climb and frankly I could do without the extra exercise so I choose a horse who is gentle enough to ride bareback with a halter and ride up the hill. The rest follow, I halter the one I want at the top and proceed with my day.

For the past few years, the horse I always caught up to ride bareback was Legacy if she was in the pasture. This year, because she was not and the four mares grazing the bottom pasture were all young, I had to walk the hill leading one up.
One thing you should know about me is that I hate to walk leading a horse so that got old pretty fast. One day I tried Sapphire, looping the halter over her neck and jumping on from a rock. (After all, I could slip off easy if things went wrong...)
The reason I chose Sapphire was not because I thought she was quiet enough to hop on bareback with a halter but because I knew the rest of the herd was not. What a great surprise - she was quite amenable to the idea. She was, as a matter of fact, almost proud to be the one leading the rest up the hill.

It's a comfortable feeling wrapping my legs around Sapphire's warm body as she confidently follows the trail through the bush to the top, grabbing a piece of her mane to keep from sliding back and off her rump on the steep sections. I feel a little like the Pied Piper with the rest of the herd streaming behind me in the quiet stillness of the bush. (So far no deer or bears have jumped out or that quiet scene would change...)

A few days ago, as we negotiated the trail once again, I was thinking that this is almost the only time I ride bareback now. I used to do that a lot, every chance I had, actually - whenever I caught a horse in the field, taking horses out to pasture, after the day trail riding. I couldn't find any "bareback" photos to go with this post but I did find this video of me on Tamarac (Sapphire's grandma) with Whisper (Sapphire's aunt) at her side loping through the field.

As Sapphire put one foot in front of the other at a walk, I reminisced about other bareback rides I hadespecially flat racing. Yes - I flat raced without a saddle! What was I thinking?
I know what I was thinking. I was thinking my horses would run freer and with less weight (and therefore faster) but now, since I'm older and wiser, I know I did not consider my own safety. Even a wreck-in-the-making (my mare veered to the outside of the track, jumped the cable, and slipped between two cars) didn't stop me. After all, I stayed on...
All of this was on my mind because Williams Lake Stampede added a flat race for women to this year's events. I did not know that until the results were posted. What was my reaction? I want to be entered! Of course it was too late and besides, my current horses, although fast, had not been run so may have embarrassed me, but the adrenalin did flow for a moment or two. Was I thinking of running that race bareback? Not a chance. I may have done foolish things like that when I was younger but not any more. What was I thinking?