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Mary Jones

Mary Jones
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All writing on this site © Mary Jones. Please do not copy, reprint, or reproduce in any form without express written permission from me or my agent.

THE TRAIL RIDE

By: M.J.

    It was 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 inexperienced riders.
    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 gigantic ring.
    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 one yet.”
    “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, he does.
    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 speed.
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 nothing.
    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 take over.
    “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 excuses.
    “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.

    It wasn’t until the following morning when I woke up sore. I could barely walk.
    “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

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