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Despite this we stay for June 9, 2011

by Carol Dunn
Sooner or later relatives or guests will show up and want to go horseback riding – with you. And if you don’t happen to have a barn full of them (horses, not relatives), it’s off to the horse rental to rent some nags for a couple hours, because old nags are the best kind of horse for people who ride horses once every ten years.
Now, I realize that when one moves to a rural area, one simply MUST know how to ride a horse. And when you move here, deep down you know that – you’re just hoping no one will force the issue. After all, if you don’t live on a ranch, learning to ride a horse is like learning to roller skate. Everyone goes through the humiliation when they are about 12, then they never use that skill, which is shaky at best, again until one fateful day when a guest in the home says, “Hey, let’s go horseback riding.” And all the other guests say, “YAY, what a great idea!” And you and your family look at each other, then close your eyes and hope that these deranged individuals change their minds and decide instead to have a cow pie tossing contest.
When you rent a horse, you will either get a “Tooter,” a “Dozer,” an “Eater,” or a “Bucker.” Obviously, no one wants a Bucker. It has forgotten its true purpose in life and the reason why it is fed so well and tries to dislodge the foreign creature sitting on its back, which happens to be someone who hasn’t ridden a horse for ten years. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Dozer, a very slow old swayback that would rather stand in the shade of a tree all day and sleep. When you get the Eater out of the corral, all of a sudden it’s a starved lunatic – like it hasn’t seen grass in three years, and it wants to stop and graze every foot and a half. Then there is my favorite horse, the Tooter.
Horses are not shy about bodily functions. They toot without compunction. And it’s a loud toot that everyone back along the trail ride line can hear. They all snicker, as if it was YOUR idea for the horse to toot. You can tell the horse not to toot, but it won’t listen. Horses don’t speak human. In some ways tooting is more amusing to some people than pooping, because everyone has seen a horse poop at one time or another. But who hangs around waiting for one to toot? And if a horse has to poop, it’s gonna go. Sometimes when they go, it’s a chain reaction. One goes, then the next one goes, then another one goes. You end up with a yellow pond or pile upon pile of bright green doo. You can suggest to your horse that she not step in the doo, but horses do not particularly care what they step in, as long as it’s not a nest of rattlesnakes.
The last thing to love about a horseback ride is the way you smell afterward. Well, basically you smell like horses. Your clothes smell like horses; your hair smells like horses; your hands smell like horses. And let’s face it, horses do not bathe on a regular basis, at least not unless they are earning a million dollars a year racing. So there you’ll be: taking a shower after the horseback ride and wondering what kind of fun your guests will drag you into tomorrow.

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