How long has it been since you considered the simple pleasure of riding horseback? Too long?
Sometimes we can become so wrapped up in our jobs, in raising a family, in pursing plans to save the world or write the next best novel, that we lose the treasured simplicity of life. Has the quest for a blue ribbon at the next horse show, or achieving the fastest time overridden the simplest joy of riding, or masked the thrill of just sitting on a horse’s back? When was the last time you thought about the simplicity of the connection with a good horse?
I’ve been thinking about writing this blog for a month now. What triggered this idea was seeing the cover of the current issue of the Sonoma County Horse Journal, (Winter 2011, Volumne 7, Issue 1. These issues are distributed free around Sonoma County.) On the cover is a fuzzy black pony named Midnight. This delightful photo by Dirk Bietau shows Midnight and his joyful rider who wears a huge smile. Midnight’s ears are up. His shiny haircoat and bright eyes alert us to his interest and willing attitude. (I am not listing the girl’s name here, due to internet safety, but her smile and confidence radiate her love of riding Midnight.)
Midnight, owned by Linda Aldrich as part of her Pony Express team for young riders, is not a fancy show pony. He has a far more important job than collecting ribbons and points on the show circuit. What is his all important job? This fuzzy black pony with the disconnected white blaze down his face introduces the thrill of riding to many young riders. That is his all important job—to teach young riders the love of riding and caring for a pony. Simple isn’t it? But the thrill doesn’t belong only to his riders. Midnight also eats up the attention of the youthful riders with a joy of his own. He loves his fans.
Midnight is being honored as the Horse of the Year for the Sonoma County Horse Council at their 2011 Equus Hall of Fame Awards on March 12th. Along with Midnight, The Horse Council is honoring eight people who have made significant contributions to horses and their well being in Sonoma County.
The 2011 Equus Hall of Fame Winners include:
Ann Gillis, DVM
and the pony Midnight
Please turn out to honor these winners. I’m sure they can all think back to the simplest joy they’ve experienced with a horse or pony. Midnight will represent the heart of all young riders past and present.
Here’s the SCHC link: Click here: Don’t miss the Equus Awards Event or SCHC Website
Thank you, Sharon Fay for your help in collecting the biography information for the Horse Journal. The Sonoma County Horse Journal is published by the Sonoma County Horse Council. Find free copies of the Horse Journal at tack shops, feed stores, libraries and other friendly merchants around Sonoma County. Please thank the advertisers in the Horse Journal for their support too.
I don’t think you are quilty of forgetting the “simple joy of riding,” Robin. Your love of horses, riding and the people who join you comes through beautifully in how you write of it all. Ride on……..
Thank you, Arletta! No, I very much enjoy the ease of trail riding and just enjoying being on a horse.
There is simply nothing like sitting on the back of a horse for letting go of the cares of life! They can take you to places that you might not otherwise see as you connect with riding buddies to enjoy a wonderful day in the great outdoors.
You’ve truly summed it up well, Valerie! Yes, there’s nothing like a ride with your four legged and two legged buddies to melt all your cares away.
I totally agree with the simple joy of riding. After 50 years in the saddle, some of my best times, best ideas, and best head clearing moments have come while on a horse. The simple joy. But I do take exception to the inference that those who show or train to show don’t enjoy their horses for the simple joy. I’ve been showing with my family for years. We raise, train, and show our own horses–and we are competitive at the breed level (AQHA) even though we are do it yourself middle income people. Trail riding is fine, we do some, but to me schooling to see how much my horse and I can accomplish is my ‘simple joy’ of riding. I ride for the learning/teaching of my horse and myself. Trail riding to me gets to be too much socialization and not enough about the horse. (personal veiw only) so I enjoy my horse in a way that suits me and is a joy to me. I think a lot of horsemen are quilty of not realizing that each rider has his or her own simple joy. We need to appreciate everyone’s different views and simple joys.
Thanks, Diane! I know you and I are on the same wavelength regarding the “simple joy” of riding viewed both ways. Unfortunately, for me to explain further in that short blog wouldn’t have worked–It had to be short in order to promote the Equus Award winners.
I whole-heartedly agree with you that their can be great joy in working one’s best with one’s own horse no matter the color of ribbon that they may or may not earn on that day. Or the fact that the joy may not be in competing at all, but just being truly in sync with your horse. I think you and I both came to realize that many years ago–(heh, heh, heh, since you and I know each other’s age!)
I DO STILL agree there can me great joy in showing your horse. (I would rejoin you in showing horses if I could.) However we’ve both witnessed others who still ‘don’t get it’ that the color of the ribbon or the big award at the end of the year is NOT what it’s about. It’s the journey to get there and being in the best sync possible with your horse–day after day–or even moment by moment.
As for the trail riding aspect, that’s another day’s subject. It too can represent ‘being in sync’ with your horse and not being just a passenger. It’s also a good way to unwind both yourself and your horse, as you well know.
I think perhaps if you could see the photo of the girl’s face on that little black pony you’d agree. It’s a priceless look. I’m sure you’ve seen it many times too, in your own kids’ eyes and on other kids’ faces. It truly represents that joy of riding. That’s what I’m talking about. As long as kids (or adults for that matter) are able to experience that joy in riding, they’ll go on to accomplish more with their horses. That special horse or pony is what gets their joy of riding started. That is why Midnight is being recognized.
In the end, that spark of joy is what fuels the horse industry.
Loved your little piece about Midnight. When I was a little girl, that would have been a dream come true. . . a pretty little pony that I could love and would love me back. You’re right about treasuring the simple things.
Thanks, Jeanne! It’ my understanding that tons of kids love Midnight. Sounds like he has quite a big fan base! (Hmmm, maybe he should write a novel.)
Robin- you’ve known me forever, and you are one of my main witnesses of how big my smile gets whenever I just get on a horse, no matter what I’m doing it for. As somebody who doesn’t own a horse, or get to see one on a daily basis, every time is special for me.
Thanks, Shannon! You may not have a horse, but your certainly have that joy when you’re around them.
Thanks for this post. You brought back great memories of my daughter’s first riding lesson. Alex was seven when she had her first lesson on a small black Arabian, Miss Brown. One rainy afternoon, following months of western and English riding lessons, my kid slipped off and fell into 8 inches of mud. I felt no worries. She was fine and got right back on. I was glad she didn’t have far to fall.
Later at the age of eleven, she took lessons with Amy Joe Tolson and rode Tulla, a black Shetland pony. One day, Tulla would not go from a trot to a lope, making my kid look like she was going to go right through the arena fence at a hard bounce. We all laughed.
Thanks, Deborah! That’s a funny story about your daughter and falling off the mare into the mud. Glad she wasn’t hurt, but as you know, falling off is part of the process of learning to ride. And who can forget a Shetland’s trot?
Oh yes, what memories that photo of the pony Midnight brought back. If you haven’t already read the winter issue of the Sonoma County Horse Journal, I’ll have to bring a copy to the next Redwood Writers meeting. You, as a dog rescuer, will appreciate Midnight’s story. (His story could be a whole separate blog!)
While I grew up riding horses, we did luck into a wonderful pinto Shetland named Topsy that my younger sister Kim rode. She was a peach of a pony. I’ll have to track down the photo of them and scan into the computer. I still remember them with warm memories when I think of Kim and Topsy.
When our kids were just about too big for a Shetland, our good friends Cathy and Amber gave us Bonnie Jean, another WONDERFUL Shetland. (They were moving out of state.) We got Bonnie along with her pony cart, harness and riding bridle. She was such a great driving pony that she taught us how to drive her in the cart. (She was so patient when we fumbled w/ the cart and harness.) In turn, she became the babysitter “Mom” of our sheep. She truly loved them and would leave the horses to go stay with the sheep. Her “babies,” she seemed to think. We loved her through her retirement years. I think she was about 42 or 43 when we finally had to have vet put her to sleep.
While Shetlands often get a bad rap–I think the biggest problem with them is that people expect inexperiended kids to train them. THAT’S the problem. Ponies too, need adequate training, just like a full sized horse.
Uh-oh, a typo! Should read, Missy Brown.
Think I had some typos in there too!
I spent many, many hours/miles a-horseback growing up and nothing replaces those memories. I was an Indian princess, a pony express rider, a pioneer. Mostly I was just best friends with my welsh/quarter pony. I’d love to get back to those days when a ride was a ride. Now I feel I can only justify time on horseback if I am accomplishing something. Therefore, I have done nothing but hold gates for a couple of years. This is going to be the summer to mount back up!
I just found your blog and love it! Keep up the good work.
Thank you, Sonja! Yes, nothing can beat that time of just “being” with a horse whether or not you’re on its back.
I LOVE that photo on your blog’s home page of the horses all in a long row there in the snow. I still need to come up with a new photo for my blog, but at this point I’m down to just the one mare. (Hmmm….how can I stretch her clear across that long, narrow photo? Just thinking.)