I grew up in a rural setting. It was in the ’70s, things were still slow and quiet. Even though we lived very close to a major airport the roads were single lanes and there were plenty of wide-open spaces with trees and streams and hillsides. To me it was “country,” I spent my time running around barefooted. Playtime meant using your imagination and objects found lying around. Not game boys, or high tech toys. Lunch usually consisted of vegetables grabbed out of the garden. Nothing better than a big fresh vine ripe tomato. Just wipe it off on your shirt and bite into it.
My older cousin lived next to us. My cousin T is the one that got me interested in riding horses. She would have mom put me on her horse’s back and ride me around. I loved it. I was only about three years old. As soon as I was old enough I asked for a horse of my own and got it. I was around six years old. That is where all the adventures began. I was definitely a morning person and I still am today. I would wake at the crack of dawn and go outside to start my day of play. My cousin, on the other hand, would often times sleep in. I know she was sick of me banging on the window to get her up in the mornings. She would eventually get up. First thing I wanted to do was to go riding. Mostly we rode bare back. Bareback means with out a saddle. I never did like a saddle under me. I felt more close to the horse when I rode bareback. We called it Indian style. A few times we would go all out with the saddle and all the gear, but I really loved riding Indian style.
We would pack a lunch and some snacks for the horses, a blanket to sit on, and a few various other things, and off we would go on a great adventure. We would escape from reality while on our horses. You can be anything you want to be. We would explore all over the area where we lived. We saw so many awesome sights and creatures. There is nothing like wondering through the woods on the back of a horse. All you hear is the footsteps of your horse walking along.
Of course you have to look out for low limbs and trees. There is also the occasional spider web between two trees with the huge spider on it. I can not tell you how many times I had a fit because I realized I had just rode into a spider web. Then you look down and see that huge spider on your shirt front. Can you imagine the convulsive dancing and arm slapping and flailing, while trying to slap that spider off of you? Other then those crazy moments everything else was peaceful. Moving along at such a relaxed pace you can see nature at its finest. We climbed hills, we crossed creeks, and we followed the railroad tracks. We found an old abandoned burial site one time. That was exciting. The headstones were so old they were mostly crumbled and gone, except for the very bottom piece. There were two that were still barely readable. The one of the lamb, that was withered and worn from time, was for a male child. It was dated from the 1800s. From the dates it appeared that the child had only managed to live for a few months. There in the middle of these woods up a hillside under some large oak trees stood the small plot of a family from the late 1700s to 1800s. That is something I will always remember. There were no digital cameras then, there was no way to really capture that moment except in my mind. Now as I share it, it is as if I am back there sitting on my horse’s back looking at that headstone of the lamb with the ear missing and the edges all rounded off with the effects of time and weather.