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It’s the Horse's Gait that Counts


I had friends who had horses when I was growing up. Their oldest daughter was a

senior in high school when her sister Debbie and I were seventh graders. Since senior

high school girls tend to find boys far more interesting than horses, my friend’s family

had an extra horse nobody rode.


I was allowed to ride their horse if I “mucked” out the horse’s stall, which means to

scoop out the manure. I also had to walk the horse to cool it down after we rode,

brush it, pick the mud out its hoofs and feed it.


Debbie’s mom even gave lessons. She taught us to ride English since we were back

east. Since we learned to ride English, Debbie’s mom also taught us how to jump.

All you had to do was shorten the reins, lean forward and kick. The horse did all the

work. The great thing about riding with an English saddle is there’s no horn like there is

with Western saddles so it doesn't get jammed in your stomach when the horse jumps.


I’ve had the chance to ride a lot over the years. One of the things I most appreciate

about horses is their gait. When I lived in Northern California a group of friends and I

would often visit a stable in Half Moon Bay and ride on the beach. They had an Arabian

I always requested. How a beautiful horse like an Arabian ended up at a stable that

rented horses I will never know, but they did. The horse had a lovely gait. You could

barely tell the difference between a walk and a trot. A trot is the usually bumpy gait

of a horse between a walk and a canter. And that Arabian could run like the wind.


I’ve ridden a lot of rental horses since then, most with trots so jerky I could barely

keep my seat. But recently, my husband and I rode at Central Coast Riding Stables.

The hills were golden, the oaks green and the sky alternatingly cloudy and pure blue.

The lovely ladies at the stable gave me “Texas” to ride. It was early morning and Texas

was fresh. He kept trotting instead of walking and his gait was so smooth I could barely

tell the difference. In the end, it's the horse's gait that counts!

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