Friday, October 14, 2005

Back in the 70's when our skulls were harder

Anybody remember the 70's? Not from TV but for real? No cellphones, my parents did not own a computer, and you didn't really have to wear seatbelts if you had a good excuse? Ah the good old days. You could get a steering wheel in the face and it was your own tough luck.

Things have improved, no doubt. But as we've made life safer in general we've also sucked the fun out of it! When I was a kid I could run out to the field, catch my pony, slip the twine string bridle over her head, wiggle up onto her back and we were off to the races. Literally. By the time I was about ten, Dad and I would ride back to the bush and then race back to the barn. Yee friggin haw!

Now it's the 00's, and here's what we do when we ride: Catch, groom, saddle. Do up two buckles on the bridle. Go get your helmet. Ride in the corral to warm up before venturing out into the pasture. Chin up heels down.

My kids are at racing age and they've gotten to a trot. It doesn't help that a) we only get to play farm 2-3 times a month, and b) their mother has a little panic problem. But daughter has hit the dirt twice, the last one resulting in a broken arm. My son has hit it three times. I told them "they" say you're a good rider after you fall off 7 times. I'd done that much before I turned 7. Boy says, "3 down, 4 to go!" It's not pleasant watching your kid slip off a horse. And this is a horse, not a pony like I had. You can see daylight under the kid's butt and just when you're about to shout a warning, boom, there's the kid on the ground. Luckily with that one exception, no disasters...and they still love their horse.

A few years back, I took a frisky 3 yr old colt out in the pasture on a lovely spring day. He misunderstood the trot cue for a buck cue, and a few hours later in the emergency ward, with my throbbing foot up on a chair, I got asked if I was wearing a helmet when I fell. I looked at her like she had three heads. "What, wearing it on my ankle? No."

"So you weren't wearing a helmet?"

"NO, and I landed on my ANKLE"

Looking back I can see their concern, especially since you really can't tell whether I have a head injury or not on a good day. But at the time I kinda wanted to smack somebody.

So I'm safety conscious. But I refuse to totally suck the fun out of everything. Get on that silly filly and let's go. Strap on your helmet kids, and ride like you mean it. Let's not be stupid, but let's not live in fear. Riding horses is scary. It should be. You're sitting on 1000 lbs of flight instinct. You'd be a fool to not be afraid. But people have been riding horses for around 6000 years. I'll take my chances. We may have more delicate bones than we did thirty years ago but horses are the same!

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