Horse ride in the dark.
Have you ever had to make a run home on a trail, riding a horse in the dark? With no flashlight and in the middle of a storm, it was an interesting experience. The only light came from the occasional flashes of lightening.
The trail ride started as a bit of entertainment. I didn’t ride that well and was given a gray mare who had recently had a foal. As I recall, there were four of us in the party.
I was the cook on the ranch and it was my reward for a made from scratch lemon meringue pie, or it might have been the biscuits, but my cooking was appreciated. At eighteen and recently married, my husband who was acting as a jockey and horse handler at the Prescott, Arizona race track, wasn’t making enough to keep us in housing, so we were living in the rocks behind the track.
My husband at the time, Bob, applied for a job at a local ranch owned by a gentleman called Garland Trammel. He raised chicken and Appaloosa horses. When he hired my ex, he was pleased to find out I could cook as neither his wife or teenage daughter could.
We moved into the bunkhouse and the other cowboys hung a tarp across the front of the big room to give the newly weds, privacy. Since there wasn’t a back door, they all used the back window as an entrance.
Garland’s girl, my ex, another guy and me all went out on a ride fairly early in the afternoon. The horse my ex was riding was only marginally broke. It needed a lot more riding before it would be worthwhile as a riding mount.
The paint pony the girl was riding had somehow gotten into a large grain bin without anyone knowing about. It. When we got to the other ranch, the animal began to founder. It could easily have died. My ex had to stay with the horse. I wasn’t sure of the way home and somehow when the other riders left to go home I was stuck waiting.
By the time Garland got to us with the oil for the animal, it was dark and raining sporadically here and there. Flashes of heat lightening occasionally light the sky. Prescott was a small town and we were way off the beaten track. That mean little or no light on the trail across the mountain back to the house.
The gray mare was beginning to get very upset. She needed to feed the foal and was beginning to put up quite a fuss. There was only the single stall horse trailer as Garland hadn’t realized no one had thought to accompany me back.
I had to take her home. There was no choice. The minute I mounted that mare it was all about she was on her way and I know what “hell bent for leather” really means. I knotted the reins together and draped them around the saddle horn. All I could do was hold on. I couldn’t see my hand in front of me and had to trust that she could.
There was a fence with a small break in it that had to be navigated and a steep slope down into a gully. I was praying that mare knew the route. It was a wild ride through the dark and we got back without my being left on the trail somewhere. At one point she came to a complete stop, turned to her right, trotted a few feet, then took off again like a shot. I figured it was the break in the fence.
She got to her foal and I got to my bed. In the book Highland Light I tell of a wild ride through the dark with only the stars to light the way. I would have given a lot for starlight at that time. But that mare knew where she was headed and thankfully, took us both to where we needed to be.
Horse ride in the dark.