Tennessee Trail Riders

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Hey ladies (and even men), read "I RIDE"

This letter/poem was forwarded to me by one of our members; it's a reminder of why you ladies do what you do, and a lot of it applies to us men too.

I RIDE

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 trailhead 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.

"My treasures do not chink or glitter, they gleam in the sun and neigh in the night".

Happy and safe New Year everyone!!

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Comment by Brenda Lane on June 17, 2011 at 8:07pm
Thanks for your poem,this is all so true of us cowgirls .It takes love of a horse and enjoying all the little moments in our trails that we go down together,through the tough times,the fun times,we travel place after place,we care for them first we go in together and we go out together,thru the winters and the summers,they are truly a loved companion,they take us places not many people see on the back of a horse breathtaking views,and they truly fill our hearts up with their beauty and their love they give us backworth every moment of shoveling the stalls,filling the water and feeding. Thanks we do what we have to do to take care of our horses from one cowgirl to another we cowgirl up cause thats just what we do Thanks for sharing ,Brenda
Comment by Tennessee Horse Properties on February 10, 2011 at 11:55am
Wow...this poem speaks for alot of us! Thanks for sharing it
Comment by Rose Higgins on April 30, 2010 at 8:58pm
What a wonderfuld "sickness"!
Comment by Stacey Leverette Cook on January 11, 2010 at 10:11pm
i just read this poem. and I love it! It is so true it is a sickness.I had a major accident in October of 2007 when I asked my horse to do something he did excatly what I had asked of.however he didnt make it up causing us to crash, and breaking my ankle and about took my foot off. however it was not his fault it was mine. Four months after the accident I was riding again,there is no feeling like it.
Comment by Donna Eaton on January 9, 2010 at 3:26pm
Someone sent me this a few years ago. I printed it and hung it in my cubicle at work. When things got too hectic, I would stop and read it. I was transported to a famiiar place and time. Then the problems at work didn't seem so big anymore.
Comment by Jacci Barrow on January 4, 2010 at 3:14pm
I look forward every year to our Cowgirl Weekend. It is so neat to look around the campground and see all the women tending their horses, saddling up to ride together and share our love horses. Some ride Western others ride English; some rack some walk some pace some trot but ALL have a good time. No offense is meant to the men, but there is just something special about the All Cowgirl Weekend.
Comment by Vicki S on January 4, 2010 at 6:36am
Love it! Can't wait to get back in the saddle....Burrrrrrrrrrrrr! Happy New Year. Vicki
Comment by Adrienne Walsh on January 2, 2010 at 11:19am
My 2 best riding buddies and I have this printed out and framed, setting in our homes to remind us when it is 20 degrees (like today) that there are rides waiting to happen as soon as the holiday obligations are fulfilled. Soon...we'll be back out there, cold weather and all! Happy New Year to all and Happy Trails!
Comment by Robin Murray on January 1, 2010 at 10:36am
That is a beautiful short story. You should publish it in one of the horse magazines.

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