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Trail rides, cantles and beans hellooo, Mama!
by Beth Boswell Jacks


I've agreed to many adventures over the last few years things I'd never thought about doing previously because I told myself, "Oh, well, assuming I survive, I can write about it." But now hubby G-Man is after me to go on a 4-day trail ride (you know, with horses and baked beans and all that).

This is well and good . . . to a degree. He swears he won't insist I get on a horse; he just wants my company sitting around the campfire and snuggling down for the night . . . in his horse trailer.

I do love animals of every fur and feather; they're precious creatures, and when G-Man is out of town I even let poochie Pharaoh sleep with me but snoozing with a horse is a whole nother bit of business.

However, foolish as it may seem, since I've been on my exercise regimen, getting willowy and feeling good, I have actually had an inclination not only to sleep in the trailer with G-Man and his horse, but also to ride the trails.

The problem is, except for climbing on one of those nose-to-rump tourist horses, I haven't been atop a steed in several years. I've forgotten the procedure.

G-Man says he could remind me, and I say, "Fine," but then I demand to know up front if he'll give me a decent funeral. He swears he will, and then, ever the cerebral one, I say, "First I have to go read about it."

I turn on my computer and search for "horseback riding for the inept," and up pops a warning:

"Horseback riding is a dangerous activity that can result in injury or death. We recommend you seek proper training and equipment before attempting this activity."

Just what I thought.

More advice follows. They tell me that first I must mount the horse. (Would real trail riders frown at the sight of my stepstool?) After I'm up there, I gather the reins, gently taking up the slack, being careful not to jerk the horse's mouth.

Got it.

Clinging to the reins, I'm then to squeeze both legs against the sides of the horse behind the girth that's the strap that fastens the saddle, I hope, securely. Next, I push my hips forward as I squeeze my legs, making sure I relax the pressure when the horse responds (he will?), and sit tall in the saddle. Legs (mine) must not be swung too far forward or back. Feet are parallel to the horse's sides. Toes in; heels down; arms, wrists and fingers relaxed.

And then I do the Hokey Pokey and I turn myself around -- no, just kidding.

That's a lot to remember, you know? Does the horse realize he's supposed to be patient with the whimpering fool straddling his spine? Just wondering.

Let's say the horse IS patient and takes me for a slow, smooth amble around the pasture. Marvelous. But then there's the matter of getting down. Horse people call it "dismounting."

I'm to bring the horse to a complete stop. That's good since I'm not much of a leaper. Putting both hands on the saddle pommel (the what?), I should stand up in the stirrups, swing my right leg over the horse's rear, and move my right hand from the pommel to the cantle (that's after I use my right hand to send G-Man a friendly signal as in, what in the heck is a cantle?).

But then comes the worst: I have to PAUSE while balancing on my hands, kicking my left foot free of the stirrup iron. Are they nuts? If I could balance on my hands I'd join the circus.

This brief bit of research took the wind out of my sails or my feet out of the imaginary stirrups, if you will. The thought of a good folding chair under a shade tree, a book, cheese and grapes yeah, even a lumpy mattress in the back of a smelly horse trailer seemed more than inviting.

I'm no fool. As they said in The Horse Whisperer: "It's a lot like nuts and bolts if the rider's nuts, the horse bolts."

So first things first. I figure those baked beans will be adventure enough.

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For more on Miz Snippets and horses, read these:
Getting My Get-Up-And-Go To Go With My Get-Up
The Good Wife's Horse Tale


Editor of USADEEPSOUTH, Beth Boswell Jacks is the author of 3 books (Grit, Guts, and Baseball and Snippets I and II) and is also a weekly columnist for a number of Southern newspapers. Readers and editors may contact her at bethjacks@hotmail.com.
Want to know more about Beth? Click here



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Read about Beth's SNIPPETS books -- two collections of her columns.
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For stories at USADS by columnist Beth Boswell Jacks, click here: SNIPPETS
And find even more here: MORE SNIPPETS

Read Beth's review of "Somebody is going to die if Lilly Beth doesn't catch that bouquet ~ The official Southern ladies' guide to hosting the perfect wedding" by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays [Hyperion/NYC]. CLICK HERE


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