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Horseback Riding

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Neil Suits

#1
I was never very good at horse back riding. I think that I was generally a little afraid of the horses. Walking the horses was fine, if a bit boring. Trotting would just about knock the stuffing out of you, and could nearly give you a hernia. I understand it can be done in such a way as to be comfortable, but I never learned how. Cantering was a blast, but always over to soon. I have two specific memories of horse back riding at Tosebo. One was in, I think, 1966. The counselor in charge of the horses seemed to know what he was doing. He was a gruff character, normally wore a dirty T-shirt and crumpled hat and was ample in the mid section. There was one particular horse who was definitely spunkier than the rest. I don’t recall his name, but I think he was a Pinto. He had a mean streak in him and you always had to be sure to give him a knee in the belly when you were putting on his saddle or he would take a deep breath only to let it out later so that the saddle wouldn’t be too tight. One time when we were riding, the counselor was on this horse. As we were coming back to the corral, we broke out in a run, as was the usual practice. I was near the back of the pack. After running a while we came to an unexpected halt. I looked to my right and saw the counselor laying on the ground a good twenty feet off the trail. Apparently the Pinto got the best of this crusty ‘cowhand’. In spite of a good knee to the ribs, the horse had held is breath and when we came around a bend the saddle had slipped sideways dumping the counselor on his can. He wasn’t happy about the situation, but he took in his stride and I think vowed to not let that evil horse ever fool him again.
My other memory of horseback riding was from the same year. One of the campers was a favorite target of the counselor. I don’t recall whether it was deserved or not, but in any case he was always being taken to task for some screw up or another. Once when we were out riding, the counselor noticed that the camper had lost the horse blanket. This was a problem because it caused chafing on the horse’s back. Finding the lost blanket wasn’t going to straightforward since we had been riding out in an open field and not just on the trails. He gave the camper **** and told me and one of the other more ‘responsible’ campers (this may have been Steve Rathford) that he would take the others back to the corral while we went looking for the lost blanket. He also told us in no uncertain terms that were to take it easy on the horses. He may have even said not to run them. The others left and my companion and I started back over the open field looking for the blanket. We walked the horses slowly until the others were out of sight and then looking at each other with great big evil grins we took off like bats out a ****. God what a great feeling of freedom that was: running like the wind, not trail and not staring at the butt of a horse. I suddenly understood why so many people liked horseback riding. Unfortunately, we soon found the blanket and had to return, walking the horses, of course, to give them a rest. After all we weren’t evil, just young boys.

Neil Suits 1964-66
 
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