Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Out on a breakfast ride

John and Rolex lead the way.

If you've never packed breakfast and headed out on your horse, you're missing some fun! We had breakfast rides at my summer camp. A counselor roused you from your bunk, told you what horse to go collect from the pasture. We saddled up and rode off to a destination where breakfast awaited, usually consisting or orange juice, cold cereal, and the trail rider's favorite--Pop-Tarts.

We didn't get started as early as we planned. The sun already cleared the power line, well beyond just cresting the slope! The day was shaping up to be another steamy one--so we skipped bringing along the thermos of coffee, just Pop-Tarts for us, and carrots for our trusty steeds. Our destination, depending on how the ride went, was someplace where the horses could graze while we munched our Pop-Tarts. Unlike my camp trips, where we tied the horses to trees, our OTTBs have not had said training--yet another skill they need to learn, right up there with ground tying.

Being Thoroughbreds, ready to go and on the alert, the horses tuned into any sounds emitted from the brush. One never knows when a killer turkey, squirrel, or deer may pounce on an unsuspecting horse! While holding onto the horses, we munched on our Pop-Tarts, wishing we had some coffee to wash down the dry, pasty breakfast.

An aside: yes, that's an impact vest I'm wearing. We have decided we don't bounce back so well any more. So like helmets, it's now part of our riding attire. I must admit to not liking how hot it seems, plus I feel like I'm strapped into a corset or bustier!. Hopefully, I won't need it, but it will be there should I take another spill. And let's face it, riding horses, especially hot-blooded ones, will eventually lead to another fall. I challenge anyone to say otherwise!

The horses, hearing the crinkling of Pop-Tart wrappers, assumed we had brought along tasty treats, such as sweet carrots! Our noisy wrappers caught their attention. They averted their eyes from scanning the woods for "monsters" and stuck their noses were into our breakfast. "What, no carrots, ma?"

"Not to worry, my beauties." I had carrots in the saddlebags. And honestly, they were more appealing than the Pop-Tarts. I guess it's a taste that will always take me back to a time and place--the Vermont hills and summer camp. But I think I'll adapt to a more nutritious and flavorful meal on our next breakfast ride. And, I'll bring coffee! And maybe our steeds will stand for hobbles or tying--as long as no demons lurk in the underbrush.
Part of being a horseman or horsewoman is to never stop learning and to maintain the ongoing schooling for both horse and rider. There's always another skill to master; another technique to try. Our horses are used to the hustle and bustle of the track, so large trucks don't scare them, but a deer bounding through the woods, a turkey trotting over the trail...that's scary stuff! But with time and exposure, they get better and better. Maybe by my next breakfast ride, Harley will ground tie for me---providing no monsters appear!

Rolex says, "Good carrots, ma!"


  1. Hello! I just discovered your blog. First, thank you for all you are doing: the research and education and actual donations in the service of saving horses from slaughter. Sometimes,especially in Maine, its hard to know where to focus one's efforts to help animals in need.
    I Have a little gelding that came with registration papers from the American Paint Horse Association. However, based on his conformation, personality and my own research into his history, I now suspect that he was actually removed from public lands in North Dakota and sold for quick cash. Lucky for me, because he is undoubtedly my favorite horse. The catch is that he is profoundly sensitive to threat and tends to take over very quickly and bolt and I have the Xrays to prove it. I can relate to your comment about not "bouncing" as we age. Im 58 now and my body doesnt hang together when it hits the ground. Natural horsemanship has provided a 90% cure for his fear on the trail and protective gear helps to prevent some of the damage. I also use wrist splints made for people who skateboard and roller blade, because I have plates in both wrists due to old fractures from falls at high speed. Bones become more brittle, too, and break more easily at my age. Not riding is out of the question, and so precautions are in!!
    Hats off to you for choosing to ride stirrup-free. My center of gravity has changed as my body fat has shifted up to my middle. This makes me top-heavy and more apt to go airborne when things go wrong. Last year my friend gave me a leg-up and I went right over the other side of my little horse! Not a bad fall, and we both got a good laugh out of it, but I was pretty bruised up. Its harder for me to deepen my seat so going without stirrups will be something that I will do more often. Thanks for blogging about that.
    I hope to follow your blog and will add to it from time to time.

    1. I hear ya, Mags on the center of gravity shift. I don't bounce like I did when I was 20! We've had some injuries with our equine adventures, but like you say, not riding is out of the question! Would love to see some pics of your feisty guy.
      You live in Maine too? As for efforts to fight for horses--I've made a number of contacts via FB where the networking is AMAZING! So many horses, with TLC and some care, are saved every week from slaughter pens and kill buyers all over the country. And my hat is off to every one of them that attend these grisly places, week after week, pulling horses--some to save, some to humanely euthanize. Staying informed of what's going on is what I can really do--not much spare money left to donate, but I can't sit by and watch the clock tick down on a horse's life. Sometimes it's just a little, but as they say, it takes a village. And miracles seem to happen, week after week. Good to hear from you!


Thanks for visiting Harley's blog.