Sunday, June 12, 2011

My First Horseback Riding Memory

My obsession with horses goes back a very long time. I don't remember a time when I wasn't crazy about these magnificent creatures.

My very first memory of riding took place when I was around 4 or 5 years old in Conconully, Washington. There used to be a horse rental place in that small town. One day my mother, sister, cousin, and I took off on the hour-long trip from my childhood home in Oroville, Washington, for the express purposes of going horseback riding. The fact that I remember it so well tells you what kind of impression it made on me.

A grizzled old cowboy met us at the ranch and was our guide for the hour-long ride. The horses, as I recall, were saddled and waiting for their next customers, which just happened to be me, my sister, and our cousin. My mother didn't ride and had no interest in horses. It was, as it often is in the summer in Eastern Washington, most likely pushing 80 to 90 degrees, but that wouldn't have deterred me.

I distinctly remember the gelding I rode, an old chestnut Quarter Horse, named Jughead. How he came about the name of Jughead, I have no idea. To me he was a Pegasus, a four-footed wonder, and the horse of my dreams. Of course, any horse would have been the horse of my dreams.

Jughead wore his halter over his bridle. The attached leadrope was tied to the guide's saddlehorn, not that the old horse needed to be tethered. He'd have followed just fine without the rope. Once we started out, Jughead did what any bombproof kid's horse would do. He fell into line with the other horses and plodded along, ignoring my attempts to urge him at a faster walk, or anything faster for that matter. He did his job and did it well. He wasn't in this dude string to be a star. He was there to provide novices (greeenhorns) with a taste of horseback riding on a safe animal.

We rode out across the open rangeland dotted with sagebrush and scrub pine trees, down some ravines, crossed a small stream and circled back. I held onto the saddle horn and revelled in the feeling of the horse's movement underneath me, all that power and grace (not that Jughead was graceful). From my vantage point in the saddle, I saw the world from the different perspective. I knew this was where I wanted to be.

I tried to find the pictures of this outing to post here, but they were missing from the photo album which held the pictures for years. What I recall is a very little girl mounted on a full-sized horse with her feet barely reaching halfway down the horse's barrel. Of course, none of us wore helmets. Such a thing was unheard back then.

Jughead took care of me that day, bringing me safely back to the barn. He further cemented my lifelong love of horses. That old horse was my very first horseback riding experience, and I'll always remember him fondly.

I'd love to hear about your first ride on a horse. Please share with us.


Laura Crum said...

Jami--My first horseback riding memory is also my earliest memory--how appropriate. I was three years old and my parents had taken me out to the family ranch where my uncle had horses. My uncle put me up in front of him on his horse, and I remember loping along and looking down at my parents driving in their car on the dirt road alongside of us. The horse was black and I remember his black mane flying and the rhythm of his gait and the wind in my face. It made an indelible imprint on my mind.

Alison said...

Great story, Jami! I don't remember not being obsessed with horses, but have no idea when I first sat on a real one like Lauran recalls. My father also loved horses, so I was five when I got my first pony. What I am so amazed is how the obsession has stuck with me all these years--through a broken arm falling off a horse, a broken finger ramming it onto a horse's neck jumping, and a broken back after a horse crashed on top of me when I was sixteen. I was in the hospital/rehab for four months. All I could think about was getting back on a horse!

HorsesAndTurbos said...

Wow...I've always been horse crazy...I have a photo of me 4?5? years old with my plastic horse.

Mmy first real memory is visit a friend when I was 7?8?9? years old...little...and her big sister had a horse, and she gave me a ride.

Don't remember much about the horse, but I do remember the absolute delight of being on my soul-creature, riding bareback up and down the driveway, the sun in my face, horse-mane in my hands, and feeling the joy, the rightness of it all.


Terri Rocovich said...

Great post Jami. It brings back a flood of happy memories. Like the rest of us, I too have ate, slept and breathed horse my entire life. My first horse memory is of a horse named Boatride who was a retired Thoroughbred Stallion from my Dad's racing stable. He had had a solid racing career but was not fertile as a stallion. He was gentle and kind and as a toddler I would play on a blanket in his grass paddock and he would keep me occupied for hours. My Mom said he was the best babysitter ever and worked cheap, just wanted carrots and love.

RiderWriter said...

Hello, Ladies: I followed the link over from the Fugly Blog, and WOW -I'm very glad I did! I can see I will definitely be spending time here perusing old blog entries. And I would absolutely love to read all of your books!

I, to my great regret, do not remember my first ride... but I do have a photo. It appears in the second post ever on my blog, actually. I'm about two years old and straddling an adorable Shetland, with my mother looking on (it was all her idea as she had horses as a child). This may not have been the VERY first ride but definitely close to it, and as I was so small, I'm not surprised I don't remember.

In my case, I just say I don't remember a time when I DIDN'T ride. :-) It's neat to hear your stories, though!

Jami Davenport said...

RiderWriter, Welcome to EI. We're happy you found us. Enjoy reading all the posts and don't hesitate to contact one of us with questions, suggestions, etc.