“The world is best viewed through the ears of a horse.” (Author unknown)
I am celebrating my three year anniversary of working and riding at my stables. I remember when I first started, my co-stable worker said how beautiful the mile and a half of trails were that wound around the back of the property. At the time I thought, “She’s worked here six years and still enjoys going on the same old trail?”
I’ve been there only half that time but I get it now. Every trail ride is like an episode of Survivor. You emerge from the forest proudly feeling like you survived the rollercoaster of your life, every time.
There are usually at least three of us stablehands who are done with their chores at the same time and we say to each other, “You want to go back on the trail?” No one ever says, “Nah, I don’t think I’m up for it today.” We love the scenery and camaraderie shared by horses and horsewomen alike, but more than that we love the “we did it!” feeling at the end.
And so we head out. Every ride is completely different but never boring. The trail follows along a swamp which includes a beaver dam at one end and a heron’s nest at the other. Ducks like hanging out at the dam so on any given Saturday either a duck or heron could burst from the brush at any time. There’s a rowboat lying upside down at the exact same spot every time but that doesn’t mean the horses are used to seeing it. Mary’s horse, Riley, usually sidesteps as he nears it, which causes the other two horses balk. Horses and riders then get our heart rates back to normal, and we say “walk on!”
On one ride last month, three deer ran out in front of us and June’s horse, Missy, jumped. On our last ride, a copperhead snake slithered out from the long grass along the trail and my horse, Peachie Girl, half-reared. Riding in a group means the more the merrier, but it also means when one horse reacts, it inevitably causes a chain reaction so that all the horses are reacting.
No one is bombproof, riders included, to being spooked by the wildlife that could at any time crash through the trees. You have to be on guard at all times. It’s most definitely a “no texting” zone. But when we stay loose, sit deep into our saddles, keep our heels down and keep a firm grip on our reins, we get to enjoy another ride of our lives.