If you love Duran Duran, Charlie’s Angels and frosted lipstick, there’s a good chance you’re an adult of a certain age (and likely female). And as an adult there is a good chance that you look back fondly on your misspent youth at the things you did back in the day that you would never do now.
And I’m not talking a perm, making out with your best friend’s boyfriend or using fake ID (perms being the most egregious). Nope. I’m talking about the carefree, and yes, careless things you did when riding your pony or horse.
Topping the list for me was riding bareback with only a halter and lead rope as I crossed a busy road to a field for a gallop while also not wearing a helmet. Thirty-five years later you couldn’t pay me to do that. Well, only if you paid me enough to pay for my horse’s 2020 board prices!
I figured I wasn’t alone in my brazen attitude towards mortality, so I took an informal and highly unscientific survey of my horsey Facebook friends to find out just how reckless they all were. The question I asked was ‘what did you do when riding as a young person you’d never do now?’ Fun fact: not wearing a helmet tops the list!
My friend Julie Lennick, now 65, offered up this memory: “I remember the day I was riding my horse bareback, with just a halter and lead shank. He took off and galloped back to the barn which included crossing a busy road and a jumping across a ditch. I was too angry to fall off. You can bet we went back and did a do-over that day. Pretty sure I wasn’t wearing a helmet either. And I used to jump sans helmet as well.”
Some other favourites (and anonymous) posts are included here with a strong caveat not to try these riding stunts at home or at the barn no matter how old or young you are!
“Trail ride alone on OTTBs with no helmet! And once, a midnight trail ride to a convenience store where we tied the horses to hitching posts out front and went in to buy beer because apparently we hadn’t had enough before the ride! I was on a barely-trained Arabian mare for that one.”
“I used to gallop across a cornfield (before it was planted) and let the horses go as fast as they could. And if I was with someone we’d race to see who’d win.”
“No helmet, swimming, jumping that fence by the church, riding beside the highway, what didn’t we do? And how did we survive?”
“Fall off and bounce back up on my feet again.”
“Taking the horses out by moonlight to cut down a Christmas tree in the woods and drag it home tied to the saddle. Trust me, it did not go well ‒ we ended up with a dumped rider, a loose horse and a frayed stick at the end of the rope.”
“While riding bareback, I used to dismount from my horse as we cantered across a field, without a helmet of course.”
“They were constructing a new highway near me when I was about 13. Just before they paved it, I took my Arab who loved to run out on it. She ran for miles.”
“Took a pony to the ocean in Holland, it ran right into the waves to go for a swim. The instructor yelled at me from the shore to get off his back and swim alongside holding onto the saddle.”
“I used to ride in the Malibu Canyons as fast and crazy as I could and only fell off once. Rode like a madwoman ’till I had kids, then rode gently and carefully.”
“I bought a sulky and some harness at an auction, came home and hooked up my hunter who had never been trained to drive and off we went. Luckily, I didn’t die.”
Another friend who is in her fifties writes humorously, “Bareback with just a halter and lead in a paddock full of loose horses. I also used to take a giant white polar bear stuffed animal I won at the CNE and put it on top of a wooden chest and sit on top of it and pretend I was riding a horse. I only stopped doing that a few years ago.”
And yes, reading these cherished memories of my friends and recalling some of my own, does bring a smile to my face. With all that is going on in the world it is a blessing to be able to remember a time when life’s pleasures were so simply had. Be safe out there!