Friday, January 28, 2011

The Arabians, the Quarter Horses, and the Journey Part 4

The story begins here.
Old Cowboy was in his eighties and was gruff. He was very stubborn, opinionated, and determined. Before he would give me any horseback riding lessons, he wanted to sit down and talk to me. We sat in lawn chairs by J's backyard pool. Old Cowboy looked me in the eye. He always wore a cowboy hat, a button down shirt, and worn jeans and boots. His face was creased and hard from years in the California sun. All that I remember from our first conversation was his gruff words, "Ive made people cry in my lessons. You will probably cry." Well I was already scared of the grumpy old man, hearing these words didnt boost my confidence going into our lessons. But I so badly wanted to ride, I agreed I would listen to everything he told me to do and would try my hardest. If that meant tears, then it meant tears.

Our lessons consisted of my inability to tack up as he saw fit. He showed me how a bosal functioned and had me always ride in one with horse hair reins. He also didnt think I could longe a horse worth a damn, and re-taught me how to do these to his perfection. When I rode, it was always, "Put your heels down." I remember Old Cowboy causing me to cry on mutiple occassions, always telling me how I was doing something wrong. It saddened my perfectionist heart. But still I persisted. I wanted to ride.

J was always the kind helper, and was always present at our lessons. He helped keep Old Cowboy from being too mean to me. In fact, if J saw he was being too gruff, he would either tell Old Cowboy to stop, to send him out of the lesson and finish up with me himself.

Months went by and I was developing a strong seat, and steady legs (always with a heel down). J would comment on my soft hands and say that I was a natural. Eventually, J sent me out on the trails that my Brother and I would travel to get to the property. He would give me twenty minutes. I could go any direction I wanted but I had to be back in twenty minutes. J would wait for me at the trail head, usually with my brother.

It was the first opportunity I ever had to be with a horse alone. I rode my trusty Rocky who carried me through the trails easily. I soon only wanted to ride on the trail. There was no Old Cowboy to bark orders at me, tell me I was doing something wrong, or make me cry. I learned more how to ride in those twenty minute trail rides then any of my time in the arena with Old Cowboy. Thats not to say I was ungrateful, because I was very appreciative of his time for free in the arena, but being a kid, I loved having the freedom on the trail.

Eventually, our twenty minute trail ride allowance grew to twenty five, then thirty, then forty, to finally, J would let me out on my own with my own time constraint. I learned those trails to exact strides. Rocky and I knew the best stretch to lope, where to slow down for a turn, and where we could straight out gallop. It was one of the best memories of my life riding those trails.

I decided I wanted to own Rocky for myself and saved ten dollars and some change. My sister and I put this money into an envelope and handed it to J one day, asking if we could buy Rocky. While my sister was never interested in horses as I was, she still thought it was kind of cool to come out with us once in a while and definitely wanted to be in on it if we got to buy one. J smiled at the bills and coins, but handed it back to us. He said he couldnt sell Rocky to us, but we were free to ride him whenever we pleased. I was sad, but agreed.

About a year went by, and nearly every day after school, my Brother and I would continue going to J's. We had formed a great relationship, and we even considered J our Grandpa. My Brother got to learn how to drive and oporate a tractor, work the manure pile, clean the pool, and help garden with J. While I spent my time grooming, feeding, and riding whatever horses J would allow, mostly Rocky. I learned each of his eight horses by name and certain quirks associated with each. I also got to enjoy other farm critters including two fat pygmy goats and three wether sheep.

We would spend our whole summers at J's house. Swimming in his pool, playing on the basketball and tennis court, in his kids' old tree fort, and then of course I got to ride later on. But J then laid a bombshell on us; he said he was selling half of his land and building a new house on the other side of the property. It would be too difficult for him to keep an eye on us and deal with all of this at the same time. He said we would let us know when we was ready for us to start coming out again. I was heartbroken. How long would it be, if ever, that I could ride again?

Part 5


Molly said...

So fun!

I use to do chores at my riding stable for lessons! That manure wheelbarrow was SO heavy! haha

Rising Rainbow said...

I can imagine how heartbreaking it was to loose Rocky and have no idea when/ if ever you would get him back.