ANN BAILEY: Life with horses is life for her"For as long as I can remember," Herald columnist Ann Bailey writes, "I’ve been a horse lover. I started riding when I was five and my mom bridled my pony Flicka, helped me climb on, handed me the reins and went back to her work."
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a horse lover. I started riding when I was five and my mom bridled my pony Flicka, helped me climb on, handed me the reins and went back to her work.
Flicka was a hand-me-down pony from my older brothers so by the time she became mine she was pretty old and there was no danger of running away with me. To the contrary, my biggest frustration with Flicka was getting her to move. A fan of the television shows “Fury” and “My Friend Flicka,” I wanted her to run like the wind, not amble along and put her head down and eat grass whenever she felt like it.
Flicka didn’t get any faster with age, but with persistence I did teach her that I was boss and took her on rides with my older brother and his friends. I couldn’t join in the races when they let their horses run all-out, but I could keep up, otherwise, so I felt like part of the cavalry.
A step up
I rode Flicka for a few years, then, when I was 12, I got permission to ride my brother’s horse, Beauty. She was high-spirited and fast and I hit the ground more than once when I was learning to ride her. I didn’t tell anyone for years that when I let her run full speed on the way back from the cows’ pasture, the only way I could stop her was to aim her toward the fence, and then hang on for dear life when she came to a screeching halt in front of it.
Over the years, I had many exhilarating all-out runs with Beauty and developed the skill and strength to stop her without a fence. I also learned that while galloping full speed is a lot of fun, so were pleasant, relaxed rides. I cherish the memories of riding at a walk or trot while visiting with my dad, brother and sister as we checked farm fields.
Beauty was the first of nearly a dozen horses that I’ve ridden over the years. Most of them were family horses and a few of them I’ve personally owned.
From Flicka, to Gypsy, to Ginger, to Isabelle and every one of them in-between I’ve loved them all and enjoyed their personalities, which have ranged from stubborn to sweet to mischievous to downright cantankerous.
During the last few years, the amount of time I’ve spent on the horses’ backs has been disproportionate with the time spent making hay and straw, feeding and caring for the horses. It’s not that I don’t want to ride more often, it’s that I am so busy with my family, work and caring for the animals, I don’t seem to ever have time.
Part of the family
Every once in a while, I think about selling the horses. But it seems like whenever I’ve entertained that thought, I run into someone who owns horses and after a few minutes of visting with them about our collective equine friends, I realize that my life would seem empty without Zammie, Isabelle and Freda.
The three are part of the family and even though I don’t ride them much, I enjoy taking care of them and simply being around them. Horses have so long been a part of my existence, I can’t imagine what life would be like without them.
I’ve decided that riding should be a priority this summer. Between now and then I’ll continue to take good care of the horses and myself so we’ll all be in good shape for some peaceful trail rides. After I took a tumble off of Zammie’s back a couple of summers ago when I was galloping her full-speed in a field and she started bucking, I decided that my days of running were over. The ground feels a lot harder than it did when I was younger and I want to reduce my chances of meeting up with it.