Friday, November 12, 2010

I Ride

Here's one for all you Independent Cowgirls out there! Thank you Stephanie Sudduth Cash for sharing this beautiful note!

I ride. That seems like such a simple statement. However as many women who ride know it is really a complicated matter. It has to do with power and empowerment. Being able to do things you might have once considered out of reach or ability.

I have considered this as I shovel manure, fill water barrels in the cold rain, wait for the vet/farrier/electrician/hay delivery, change a tire on a horse trailer by the side of the freeway, or cool a gelding out before getting down to the business of drinking a cold beer after a long ride.

The time, the money, the effort it takes to ride calls for dedication. At least I call it dedication. Both my ex-husbands call it ‘the sickness’. It’s a sickness I’ve had since I was a small girl bouncing my model horses and dreaming of the day I would ride a real horse. Most of the women I ride with understand the meaning of ‘the sickness’. It’s not a sport. It’s not a hobby. It’s what we do and, in some ways, who we are as women and human beings.I ride.

I hook up my trailer and load my gelding. I haul to some trail head somewhere, unload, saddle, whistle up my dog and I ride. I breathe in the air, watch the sunlight filter through the trees and savor the movement of my horse. My shoulders relax. A smile rides my sunscreen smeared face. I pull my ball cap down and let the real world fade into the tracks my horse leaves in the dust.

Time slows. Flying insects buzz loudly, looking like fairies. My gelding flicks his ears and moves down the trail. I can smell his sweat and it is perfume to my senses. Time slows. The rhythm of the walk and the movement of the leaves become my focus. My saddle creaks and the leather rein in my hand softens with the warmth.

I consider the simple statement; I ride. I think of all I do because I ride. Climb granite slabs, wade into a freezing lake, race a friend through the manzanita all the while laughing and feeling my heart in my chest. Other days just the act of mounting and dismounting can be a real accomplishment. Still I ride, no matter how tired or how much my seat bones or any of the numerous horse related injuries hurt. I ride. And I feel better for doing so.

The beauty I’ve seen because I ride amazes me. I’ve ridden out to find lakes that remain for the most part, unseen. Caves, dark and cold beside rivers full and rolling are the scenes I see in my dreams. The Granite Stairway at Echo Summit, bald eagles on the wing and bobcats on the prowl add to the empowerment and joy in my heart.

I think of the people, mostly women, I’ve met. I consider how competent they all are. Not a weenie amongst the bunch. We haul 40ft rigs, we back into tight spaces without clipping a tree. We set up camp. Tend the horses. We cook and keep safe. We understand and love our companions, the horse. We respect each other and those we encounter on the trail. We know that if you are out there riding, you also shovel, fill, wait and doctor. Your hands are a little rough and you travel with out makeup or hair gel. You do without to afford the ‘sickness’ and probably, when you were a small girl, you bounced a model horse while you dreamed of riding a real one.

Julia Edwards-Dake

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Horse Lovers Saddle Up to Raise Money for Mississippi Animal Rescue League

Updated: Monday, 08 Nov 2010, 7:31 AM CST
Published : Sunday, 07 Nov 2010, 9:02 PM CST

OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. - Horse lovers from the Mid-South gathered Sunday afternoon in Olive Branch to take part in the first "Ride For Rescues" trail ride at Kimberlin Farms. Participants saddled up their horses, making donations that would benefit the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, which is a non-profit organization.

"Dogs and cats, you think of them all the time but there's a huge issue with homeless horses here locally. We wanted to bring awareness to the problem," said Ashlee Pigford, a riding instructor in Olive Branch.

Several owners of rescues were on hand to share their success stories. Memphian Bob Harbin was one of those tender hearts in attendance. Harbin rescued a starving horse this past July, a quarter horse gelding he named Mr. Tipton.

"When I got him, he was 600 pounds," said Harbin. "He's right at 900 pounds now. I have to add, I had about a dozen people contribute feed and vet care to this horse."

Harbin credits the team work of his fellow horse-lovers for Mr. Tipton's improvement. He's hoping to find Mr. Tipton a loving, forever home soon.

Pigford rode Popeye in Sunday's trail ride, a 30-plus year old rescue horse that came to Kimberlin Farms malnourished.

"Believe it or not, Popeye was pretty frisky today," joked Pigford.

Popeye and Mr. Tipton's stories are far too common and in a struggling economy, cases like theirs are more prevalent. That's why Sunday's event at Kimberlin Farms was so important for those attending.

"Horses are a very expensive pet to take care of. They require a lot of education and well-informed owners," said Pigford. "We're seeing less and less of that and also people not being able to take care of them in this harsh economy."

If you'd like to learn more about horse rescue, or to make a donation, click on the links attached to this story.

SOURCE: Kristin Tallent/Fox 13 Memphis