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How old were you when you first started riding? Any early experiences you can share?
I got my first ride on our work mare (I'm old[Tongue] when I was two. Dad thought if he swung me up on something that big, I would panic and want right back down. Instead, I had a death grip on her mane while he was trying to pull me off.

He managed to keep me off horses until I was ten and started riding, bareback, behind my older cousin. She was a heck of a rider. Could wrap her arm back around me while galloping her horse heck-bent-for-election thru the narrow trails in grandma's woods.

By the time I was 11, mom and dad split, my new step grandfather raised Welsh/Morgans and I started riding them. Grandpap must've seen a small bit of natural horse instinct, and year later I started breaking his horses to ride and drive. It took me until my early 30's to realize what a lucky kid I was to have him as my horse mentor. He was gentle and kind - always asked the horse, very rarely raised his voice - even to the stallion.

He helped me find my own horse when I was 12. I've only been out of horses one year since then and I will be 68 this spring.

Sadly I laid my best bud of 24 years to rest last November. He was 27 and the strangulating lipomas he'd lived with 2-1/2 years finally caught up to him. Watching my other three horses grieve was a very long and heart-wrenching period of time. The new lead horse (who really didn't want the lead after all) would stand over Duke's resting spot every day for two weeks. He still goes over there but not as often.

Suffice it to say, my current three are 19, coming 21, and coming 28. At my age they are my last, as I want to know I have sent them on to their ancestors, where they are safe. I could not "go" in peace knowing they were still here for me to worry if my wishes of PTSn'g all of them would actually be carried out. Two of them are now costly special needs and the third also has some health issues that, while not that expensive, need to be heeded and attended to.

As far as early experiences? I could write a book, if I could remember everything. I spent the bulk of my life riding bareback, I had a penchant for re-schooling Widow Makers in early adult years, I was a die hard trail rider whose idea of a good trail ride was to go "where no man had ever gone before". I've slid horses down hills on their butts, and dug up the other side. Swam my share of rivers, been caught in a couple of scary lightening storms with "nowhere to run, or nowhere to hide". Ridden in the remote high areas of the Allegheny National Forest, waitng for the Marlboro Man to saunter out from behind a tree, to the Low Desert rock hills of Southern California where the only thing to jump out from between the rocks might be a Sidewinder or a Diamondback.

These days, we're all retired and experiences aren't worth sharing but, my greatest joy is hearing my 20 year old come thundering down off the ridge, as only he can do and, watching my now insulin resistant 19 yr old, lick/chew/ears up and come hot footin' it out of the paddock, telling me his foundered hooves feel good today.

My coming 29 yr old Arab is the Walk Silent Carry a Big Stick little guy. I rescued him, starving with an injured vertebra 22 years ago. He's a hard keeper and losing his BFF of nearly 22 years cost him all the weight I struggled, over the summer, to put on him. He just finished a month of Omeprazole but, so far, he is still thinner than I want to see him. The vet is ok with him because he's healthy otherwise.

He's always been a excellent child's lesson horse and a Happy Memory horse for children that may never see a horse again. He's a hard keeper and losing muscle mass but still keeps his sense of humor. I let him get away with what I call "mannerly mischief" because he's never been a horse to take advantage in the wrong way. Some folks will get what I just said, others won't[8D]
You are one brave soul! Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the read.