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Adventures on Horseback: Horses lend you wings, heart

My editor, bless his heart, made the mistake of saying, “You should write a column.”

Telling a writer that is like praying. Be careful what you ask for.

So, these are the first — of hopefully many — words about all the fun and exciting things one can experience on horseback.

Lots of people have remarked that I’ve had an interesting career. I have to at least admit, it didn’t take the normal track.

I did my fair share of showing as a young rider. Shows were very different back then. I was also fortunate enough to join a good Pony Club, and I grew up foxhunting.

When showing changed from hunter trials in big fields with 3-foot-6-inch jumps to ring classes — even for hunters — I guess I lost interest.

Maybe it was all the “Black Stallion” books I read, or I could blame the cowboy shows on TV. Regardless, somehow I wound up in this incredible lifelong adventure that included charging cannons with a black powder rifle, sabre fighting on horseback, jousting with lances, galloping racehorses and riding a horse to New York City.

Long story short (maybe), I learned there are so many exciting, fun and wonderful things open to riders. We don’t have to stay inside that ring, constantly going in circles trying to keep our heels down.

Please don’t mistake my tone. I enjoyed my days in the show ring and am proud of that box of ribbons and trophies in the basement.

I also love watching a good dressage horse working well with a rider that can bring out the horse’s best. Soaring over a 4-foot wall has its moments as well.

But I would also never trade the foggy mornings on the backside, the horse’s blowing steam from their nostrils, the jocks calling to one another and the feel of a thousand pounds of high strung thoroughbred responding to the slightest touch of rein or leg.

I recall the echoes of hounds’ voices muffled through the trees on frosty mornings. More than once, my heart pounded as I jumped off my horse, threw my coat over a low wire fence and trusted that special horse to take me safely over. For the hounds were on, and it was my job to get to the other side of the covert in time to “tally ho Sir Charles” as he broke.

I can see the faces of the inner-city Baltimore youth, memorized by a horse in their midst. I remember their voices as they called, ”Lemme’ ride! I wanna’ ride.”

I’ll never forget the lonely back roads Count and I trekked, just the two of us, so far away from home.

As many of us are blessed to know, horses are a wonderful noble gift from the creator. They bring us great joy, challenge us to face our fears and bless us with their patience.

Horses lend us wings and heart, and they have given me a lifetime of grand adventure.

Catherine Hunter’s journalism career spans 20 years of writing for newspapers and magazines, including The Chronicle of the Horse, The Western Horseman, the Tryon Daily Bulletin and Foothills Magazine. In 2000, Hunter received a South Carolina Press Association award for reporting in depth. She is the author of “Sacred Connections Horsemanship: Empowering Horse and Rider through Chakra Energy.”
Email her at catherine.hunter@tryondailybulletin.com.