Dec 13, 2008

Time in the Saddle

I have been a member of the AQHA recreational ride program for several years. Three years ago, our Nebraska Horse Trails Committee introduced a similar program in our state called Trail Time. This was my 3rd year of participating. It is not a race. It is not a competition. It is just between you and your horse or horses. For the last 2 years, my goal was to ride 250 hours each year. Come the end of December of both years, I struggled to get there. Went a couple over the first year & a couple shy last year but averaged 250. Never one to sandbag, I set the same goal this year. When August turned out to be exceptionally nice riding weather, I realized I would easily make the 250 hours, so set my sites on 300 hours. And today, December 13, 2008 – Windy and I crossed the finish line at 300 hours of Trail Time!

The temps neared 50 degrees today. The winds were blowing, but it was definitely a ride day. After Case’s basketball game, I went to the corral to fetch my best horse. She didn’t seem to mind me interrupting her meal. She knew today was special.

We headed out the driveway with no destination in mind. Ritz leads the way and we followed. Headed down the hill, rode the pasture to the perimeter trail in the trees and then back along the pond. Realized I had too many layers on & stopped and tied my coat to the saddle.

Went over to my mother-in-law’s pasture and did our pole bending pattern through the trees. Note to self: need to come down with nippers and do some trimming – we had to take some of the poles pretty wide! As we passed the apple trees, Windy glanced in that direction – no doubt remembering the warmer days when we rode under the tree for treats.

As we headed out to the bean field, I squeezed and kissed and we moved directly into a canter. What a rush! She felt good and solid and easy as we climbed the hill. As we neared the top of one of the terraces, Ritz took a dive into the snow drift on the other side and Windy put on her brakes. We turned and continued on top of the terrace until we cleared the snow and continued our climb at close to a gallop. Once on top of the hill, she caught her breath while I snapped some pictures of what is one of the favorite views of our farm.

Our “secret” trail wasn’t open. There was a hotwire up and cows grazing in the cornfield. We turned east and I gave Windy her head, a small squeeze and she easily moved back into a lope. We rode up and down the long slopes of the bean field and even did one small jump across some water and mud in the water way. We got to the edge of the field next to the highway and climbed another terrace to the corn field. There, I stopped and let her forage for corn.

We ended back up in the “pole bending" pasture and weaved in and out one more time. Ritz took a walk around the pond and onto the ice. We had hay on the trailer waiting to be put up in the loft and I could see John up there getting set up. I glanced at the clock on my cell phone and I was 5 minutes from hitting my 300 hours. It was time to go home.

We started a slow lope up the field road, Ritz leading the way. I squeezed tighter and she moved quicker. Before long, we were galloping. Ritz heard us narrowing the gap and got out of the way. I brought her in just as we got to the corner and we walked up our driveway and crossed the finish line, so to speak.

John took our picture to commemorate the event – thus the reason her legs are cut off and her ears aren’t up. (My friends are laughing at the ears!) Other than having a pair of nuisance underwear on, the 300th hour ride couldn’t have been more perfect. It was like Windy knew it was a special day, too. There was nothing I would change about the ride. Galloping through the fields on my best horse!

In my heart there is no doubt
you gave to me unselfishly
the best days of my life


  1. Congratulations!! That's an amazing accomplishment!! Very cool. Love your pole bending trees, that's neat. My only concern would be that they don't fall down if you hit them. More incentive NOT to hit them, lol.

  2. Mikey, I had to go back and look at the picture... yes, those trees do look small in that picture! They are cottonwoods, I think. Probably about 10 years old and much prettier in the summer. It is kind of cool to ride thru them!

    Thanks for the congrats! I realized this year that I needed to start riding by myself more often. My husband doesn't ride much anymore and kids are on to other things. Not time to always trailer somewhere, so did a lot of road riding around here.

    I enjoy your blog, too, and thank you for your commitment and rescue of the blind appy in Idaho. It was an incredible story.

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