The other day when I was putting Rosebud in her kennel because I was going to feed the horses, I started thinking about how much I had written about our dogs lately and how little I’d written about horses. That struck me as ironic because, while I like dogs, I’ve always considered myself a horse lover.
I started riding when I was five and my mom bridled my pony Flicka and sent me on my way. I "graduated" from Flicka to my brother, Richard’s high-spirited mare, Beauty, when I was 12 and have ridden horses ever since. I didn’t have formal riding lessons and rarely rode with a saddle until I majored in the Light Horse Management program at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Instead, I learned to ride bareback, gripping with my knees. Not depending on a saddle was a great way to learn how to balance. I also learned to never be lulled into complacancy when I was riding because Beauty could move lightning-fast. Just when I started to "zone out" she would see something to shy at and step out from under me. That taught me another less; how to get on from the ground bareback.
I’ve continued riding as an adult and am teaching our children to ride. Ellen, age 6, especially loves it and over the weekend had a big smile on our face as she guided Isabell, our 6-year-old quarter horse, by herself. I was at their side in case anything went wrong, but the pair did very well. Isabell, an always quiet, gentle horse with a sweet personality, seemed to be even more careful with Ellen on her back. Ellen, meanwhile, has the confidence to be the boss.
It isn’t just riding horses my family and I enjoy, though, it’s simply being around them. Sometimes we go out to the barn just to "visit" and to brush them. I feel fortunate that I can live on a farm and have the room to house both horses and dogs — and a couple of cats.