Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Simple Statement

Author's Note:
I wrote this essay in 2006. It was originally e-published in the American Trail Horse Association E-newsletter. Since then it has been e-published all over the net (with some well meaning changes) and in Hoofprints, the newsletter of the NATRC. Here it is in its original form.

A Simple Statement

I ride. That seems like such a simple statement. However as many women who ride know it is really a complicated matter. It has to do with power and empowerment. Being able to do things one might have considered out of reach or ability. I have considered this as I shovel manure, fill water barrels in the cold rain, wait for the vet/farrier/electrician/hay delivery, change a tire on a horse trailer on the side of the freeway or cool a gelding out before getting down to the business of drinking a cold beer after a long ride.

The time, the money, the effort it takes to ride calls for dedication. At least I call it dedication. Both my ex-husbands call it ‘the sickness’. It is a sickness I’ve had since I was a small girl bouncing my model horses and dreaming of the day I would ride a real horse. Most of the women I ride with understand the meaning of ‘the sickness’. It’s not a sport. It’s not a hobby. It’s what we do and, in some ways, who we are as women and human beings.

I ride. I hook up my trailer and load my gelding. I haul to some trailhead somewhere, unload, saddle, whistle up my dog and I ride. I breathe in the air, watch the sunlight filter through the trees and savor the movement of my horse. My shoulders relax. A smile rides my sunscreen smeared face. I pull my ball cap down and let the real world fade into the tracks my horse leaves in the dust.

Time slows. Flying insects buzz loudly, looking like fairies. My gelding flicks his ears and moves down the trail. I can smell his sweat and it is perfume to my senses. Time slows. The rhythm of the walk and the movement of the leaves become my focus. My saddle creaks and the leather rein in my hand softens with the warmth.

I consider the simple statement; I ride. I think of all I do because I ride. Climb granite slabs, wade into a freezing lake, race a friend through the manzanita all the while laughing and feeling my heart in my chest. Other days just the act of mounting and dismounting can be a real accomplishment. Still I ride, no matter how tired or how much my seat bones or any of the numerous horse related injuries hurt. I ride. And I feel better for doing so.

The beauty I’ve seen because I ride amazes me. I’ve ridden out to find lakes that remain, for the most part, unseen. Caves, dark and cold, beside rivers full and rolling are the scenes I see in my dreams. The Granite Staircase at Echo Summit, bald eagles on the wing and bobcats on the prowl add to the empowerment and joy in my heart.

I think of the people, mostly women, I’ve met because I ride. I consider how competent they all are. Not a weenie among the bunch. We haul 40 foot rigs, we back into tight spaces without clipping a tree. We set up camp. Tend the horses. Cook and keep safe. We understand and love our companions; the horse. We respect each other and those we encounter on the trail. We know that if you are out there riding, you also shovel, fill, wait, and doctor. Your hands are a little rough and you travel without makeup or hair gel. You do without to afford ‘the sickness’ and probably, when you were a small girl, you bounced a model horse while you dreamed of riding a real one.

Julia Dake©


mokuchta said...

Great essays! Reminds me why I keep emptying those water buckets and getting my toes stepped on:-).

Julia Edwards-Dake said...

Thank you for your comment. Look for my next essay in the Feb 2009 issue of EQUUS Magazine and another one in April 2009. What fun...Keep riding!
Julia Dake

Tammy said...


Do you mind if I use some exerpts from your "Simple Statement" in a blog I am writing? It would give you full credit with a link back to your blog. It's time to ride and I've been thinking about Why I Ride and love how you say it best!


kim said...

Thank you so much for visiting my blog to talk about A Simple Statement. It allowed me to come here and find more of your magic words.
I will publish an addendum to the blogpost where I shared your beautiful work with them, that they may come here in turn.
Thank you

Tina said...

Dear Julia, I've been looking for you to properly credit you for what is circulating the net incorrectly I now find as "I Ride". My editor received your essay as such and as Author Unknown. I don't know what the big mystery is as I found you in about 10 minutes.

Help me out. Shall I send my editor a correction as to the title? I am so happy to see your copyright on your blog.

How would you like to be credited and shall I include your address?

Thank you so much and I thoroughly enjoyed your essays.

Tina Clippinger

surfgirlsoap said...

"A Simple Statement" is just perfect. Thank you.

Bonnie Meyer said...

Great reading!!!