Sunday, July 10, 2011

On (and off) The Horse

     It struck me the other day that many Albertans will have only a passing acquaintance - or none at all - with The Horse.  Whereas a hundred years ago everyone knew how to ride and care for their steed (or team thereof), the horseless carriage led to a horseless urban society with dizzying speed.  I always felt fortunate to have had riding lessons as a child during the fifties in Lethbridge, which instilled in me a healthy respect for equines - although not much more at the time due to a serious allergy to same.  In fact, it was not until our move Out Here in 1976 that I became re-acquainted with the culture of the horse.   By then my allergies were under control, and frequent invitations to help the neighbours move their bovine herds here or there - coupled with the occasional all-day cattle drive - soon had me pretty comfy in the saddle again.  (Yes, that is a frame from Billy Crystal's "City Slickers" movie.   Draw your own conclusions, but please keep them to yourself.)  "Comfy" hardly describes the condition of your butt after an all-day cattle drive, however, and combined with soaking wet boots from pushing the herd across the Castle River, makes for an ache or two the next day or three.  Roping from the saddle didn't go so well either, but all in all the horse had re-entered this city kid's consciousness to some extent.  The next natural development (you knew it was coming) was our acquisition of a couple of ponies for both the education and enjoyment of our children.  Joey and Chico were both mature (if not full-size) hay-burners when we acquired them and, although generally gentle, they failed to capture the imagination of our kids for more than a couple of years.  Still, the experience was a good one for all concerned.  The vet bills, worm medicine, hay purchases, winter feeding, hoof clipping, etc. eventually culminated in us donating them to another family with young kids.  But I digress.  The point I'd like to make is that The Horse never really left rural Canadian society the way it disappeared in the cities.  Out Here they're still the best thing to see the back country on, and the best thing for rounding up cattle, hunting big game, etc.  (Thank Buddha, quads can't go everywhere, do periodically require gas, and do occasionally malfunction.)  In fact, there are lots of horses Out Here, and lots of folks who ride 'em.  Yahoo!

TODAY'S GOOD NEWS:  There will always be a place for working mounts Out Here!