writing on this site © Mary Jones. Please do not copy, reprint,
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a warm summer morning May of 2001, in the town of San Angelo, Texas,
and I finally had a chance to go on an authentic 6-mile trail ride.
Not that I’ve never ridden a horse before, but this was different.
The individual I went with was an older man named Richard. We were going
to a big Stable in Crystoval Texas.
Richard helped out at this place on weekends,
breaking in new horses, and getting horses ready for the trail ride
they had every weekend. The average cost was $30.00 per person, and
on this particular hot day, they were expecting seventeen people from
the Good Fellow Air Force Base to attend the trail ride. All would be
We had a couple of hours to round up twenty-one
horses and get ready for the group that morning. Richard and two other
men rounded up the horses and tied then to a long iron railing pole.
I occupied my time by getting acquainted with the horses, stroking their
coats and talking to them. Keeping them calm, and from trying to kick
or nip at each other. They were all pretty hefty size animals, ranging
from two-year-olds on up. Most of them appeared to be thorough breeds.
I noticed a few were a little high-spirited this morning. There was
one horse, a brown and white stallion in particular, a two-year-old
stud, not quite as full-scale as the other horses, who seemed a little
more quiet then the rest of the group.
Finally, after all the horses were rounded up,
a bridle and bit are put on, and saddles are mounted on each one. After
that was completed, each horse has to be taken out for a warm-up. The
purpose of this routine is so the horses would be too worn out to break
out in a run with any of the trail riders. All it takes is for one horse
to break into a run, and all the horses will follow suit. Last time
this occurred, sixteen riders were injured.
Each of us picked out a horse to warm-up. I chose the undersized two-year-old
stud horse. Richard helped me on to my horse, and then got up on his
horse, a gray speckle mustang, and another man got on a russet color
thorough breed. Richard and the other man took off towards the back
area of the stables and I followed suit. In the distance I can already
see Richard and the other man running the horses around in a colossal
structure, made of bales of hay, that lay in one section, forming a
I made my way over to where the men were, and
straight away my horse automatically goes into the corral of haystacks.
I of course instantly try my best to steer him out of it. But the stubborn
animal wouldn’t cooperate. Ignoring my lead with the reins, and
with a mind of it’s own, he unexpectedly whips on out of the hay
bales and takes off at an enormously high speed. Now earlier that day,
I had asked Richard, “Richard you won’t let any horse run
off with me, will you? Because that happened to me when I was fourteen.”
He replied, “Naw, I’ll be there to rescue you. You’re
in good hands. I won’t let anything happen.”
But now here I was, hanging for my dear life
on a two-year-old stud horse with one foot dangling out of the stirrup.
At first I panic. But my logical senses told me I had to take control.
Richard and the other man were too far behind to help. So, with my left
foot still out of the stirrup, I continually kept pulling on the reins.
I could see the whites of his eyes, and I knew that this was not a good
sign. I desperately started talking to this out of control horse, saying;
“Whoa horse, you don’t want to do this.” I kept saying
this over and over. The horse however refused to listen to me. He done
taken me over a quarter mile and it was obvious; he was heading straight
for the highway.
I could see from the corner of my eye that Richard
and the other man were now in pursuit, but were still too far way. I
knew without a doubt, fixing this situation was entirely up to me. So,
with all my might, I pulled hard on the reins again. At last, he finally
decided to stop. And, just when he was fixing to take off again, Richard
caught up with me and grasped his reins. I immediately cried out ”let
me off of this horse!” Richard tightly held the reins while I
quickly jumped off of the wild-eyed animal that had nearly killed me.
I stood there with shaking knees, catching my breath, and thanking the
good lord I was still in one piece.
After standing there for a few minutes, trying
to regain my composure, Richard abruptly declared, “Okay, he ought
to be calm enough to ride now. I’ll help you back on.” I
immediately replied, “hell no! Are you crazy? I can still see
the whites of his eyes!”
Seeing that there was no way he was going to
get me back on that horse, Richard replied, ”Okay, then take my
horse back to the stable, and I’ll take this one.” I reluctantly
agreed but added, “All right, but I’m not riding him, I’m
walking him back.” Richard un-mounted his horse and handed me
the reins. I cautiously walked his horse back towards the stables.
After arriving back at the stables and securing
the horse, I decided I would leave the horse warming up to the men.
I sat on the tailgate of a pickup truck and watched as the group of
people from the Air Force base finally arrived. I watched as each individual
was giving a horse of his or her choice. One man, who was rather overweight,
fell off his horse right off the bat. I laughed of course.
Afterward, the same overweight man made his
way over to me with his horse, and I asked him, “Is this your
first time on a horse?” He replied very proudly, “Oh no.
I have been riding for three months now.”
“Oh okay,” I replied back, but thinking
to myself; “You could have fooled me.”
At last, everyone was mounted on their horses,
and the trail leader said, “Okay, does
everybody have a horse now?” That’s when Richard spied me
sitting on the tail gate, and said “No, Mary hasn’t got
“Oh rats,” I think to myself. “Busted.
He just had to notice. Darn it.”
Pretending like I didn’t hear him, I deiced to play dumb. But
Richard would have none of it and came to get me off the tailgate, and
forced me to pick out a horse. There isn’t too much of a selection
left, so I go with a brown, russet colored, mare.
She looks pretty gentle to me, so Richard helps
me up. Right off the bat, I noticed the stirrups don’t fit right,
but Richard explains it’s the best they can do. Finally, we are
all ready. The trail leader informs everyone that we will be going on
a six-mile trail ride. Everyone seems rather excited; I on the other
hand, worry if I’ll even last that long on a horse. We cross over
the highway and down a ditch onto a worn out trail.
After awhile, we have to get back onto the highway,
so we lead our horses up this steep ditch. The overweight guy is beside
me on his horse. Before I know it, he falls off and the horse almost
goes down with him. One foot is still hanging in the stirup.
I laugh my ass off, and said, “You didn’t
do it right. I at least know when you go up a hill with a horse you
have to lean forward.” That dumb guy had leaned backwards.
Eventually, we make it to another trail, and
onto an old dirt road. My saddle is too large, and too wobbly, and keeps
sliding on me. I motion for Richard to come fix it, and thankfully,
The whole trail ride was going pretty smooth
as far as I could tell. But then it started to rain. We are all told
to put our horses in a trot. I didn’t want my horse to go too
fast, so every time she would pick up speed, I’d slow her back
down. But the more I did this, the more I got left behind. In no time,
I was the last rider in line. As we all headed back to the stables,
we are all getting pretty soaked. We are now on the trail beside the
highway and I am still holding up the rear and I am getting further
and further behind. But, I am not the only one who notices this. My
horse notices that she is getting left behind and starts to pickup speed.
I try to hold her back, but she starts to whine and pickup even more
I’m starting to get a bit nervous now. I knew if I lose control
of her, she will surely break in a run, and all the other horses will
likely follow in suit.
Finally the trail leader notices my horse acting up and has every one
slow down so my horse can catch up.
Well, after another close call, we all made
it back to the stable safely. We were all drenched to the bone. By now
the rain has stopped, but the horses are too wet to take back out. So
Richard and I go next door to a little café and ate lunch. We
are both totally soaking wet, and I’m thinking; this is awful
people are staring at us.
While at the café, Richard says, “When
we dry off, and the sun comes out, we’ll go again.” But,
I am not certain I want to go. Richard says, “Oh, we’re
not going to go back with the group. We’ll go a different way.
This way your horse won’t get so distracted by the other horses.”
I was still kind of reluctant to go out again.
But, I had enjoyed the ride earlier, before the rain had hit. So I finally
said, “Okay, but I want the same horse I had on the trail ride.”
Richard says, ”Okay no problem.” And I then said, “Okay,
but make sure it’s the same one. I know a lot of them horses look
alike.” He assured me I would get the same horse.
So finally, after an hour had gone by, we are all dried out, and the
sun is hot, and we’re ready to give it another go. Richard brings
my horse to me. Right off, I notice a wrong color bridle on her. I point
this out to Richard.
“Are you sure this is the same horse?
My horse had on a purple bridle.”
“I think they just switched bridles on
her,” he says.
Convinced that perhaps he is right, I mount
the horse and start to follow Richard. But, before we even leave the
stable, I sense, “Ummmm, I still don’t think this is the
same horse. This one appears a bit agitated.” However, I said
We get to a pave road, so I try to get the horse
off the pavement to the curb; the pavement is bad on their shoes. This
horse however refused to be steered off the pavement, and fought back,
almost causing both of us to fall. I also noticed, that every time I
loosen up the reins, the horse tries to take off on me. It was obvious
to me that the horse wanted to run. I however, refused to let it. I
could tell this was really pissing the horse off. I told Richard,
“I don’t think this is the same
horse. It’s acting different.”
“It’s probably the bridle they put
on her. She doesn’t like it,” said Richard.
“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t
think it’s the same horse I had before. I’m telling you.
I can tell. This horse is too high-spirited. It’s wanting to take
off.” I told him again.
It was just a feeling I had. But, Richard was
convinced it was the same horse I used for the trail ride. I refused
to believe him, and finally said, “No, this is not the same horse
and it’s fixing to take off with me any minute. I’m getting
pretty nervous here, Richard.” Actually, fear was starting to
“Okay, take her on over to the fence line,”
Richard replied, after seeing that the horse was actually getting a
bit too edgy.
“Okay. I’ll try,” I said nervously,
and steered the horse off the pavement and onto the grass up against
a barb wired fence, forcing the horse to a halt.
This had defiantly pissed the horse off completely,
and it rear up on me. But, I hung on while images played in my head
the horse running off into the woods out of control. Once again, Richard
had gotten there in time and grabbed the reins and jerked the horse
down and ordered me to get off quick.
Didn’t have to tell me twice. I jumped
off that horse faster then a rattlesnake could strike, as if my whole
life had depended on it.
“I want to go back. I don’t want
to do this no more.” I whined. I could feel both my legs trembling.
I was pretty shook up.
“Okay, but we have to ride the horses
back,” Richard said. “Uh? Nooooooo,” I whined. “I
don’t want to get on a horse, period.”
“You have to. We’re too far from
the stables to let them walk on the pavement.”
“But, I can’t. I’m not getting back on that horse
again. No way,” I demanded.
“All right then, you ride mine and I’ll
ride this one back.”
“I got a cramp in my foot.” I whined.
“ I can’t get on.” Of course I was just making up
“Can’t I just walk the horse back?”
I pleaded desperately.
“No. Here, I’ll help you up. We’ll
go slow,” Richard promised.
I didn’t trust his words but knew I had
no choice. My fate was in his hands.
“Okay, remember, don’t go fast.
Cause then this one will,” I said nervously.
Well, we made it back to the stables in one
piece. I was defiantly relived. I got off the horse and found me a nice
safe place to sit, while Richard put away the horses. An hour later
he tells me, “You were right. That wasn’t the same horse
you had on the trail ride. That was a male, and it was the one the trail
leader had. It was very high spirited.”
“Oh, see I told you. I knew it. That dang
horse could of killed me,” I said wide-eyed, defiantly relived
far more, that I was still in one piece.
wasn’t until the following morning when I woke up sore. I could
“Ohhhhh my legs,” I whined.
“What’s wrong? Is your butt sore?”
laughed Donna, a forty-seven year old heavyset lady, which lived at
the same place as I.
“No, it’s the inside of my thighs,”
I replied. Later I checked to see how bruised they were. Darn things
were black and blue All over. It was then and there; I decide I wasn’t
going riding again for a very long time.
October 3, 2008