Favorite Funny Stories – Horseback Riding
From early childhood, I have had a love affair with horses. I cannot say why or how it all started but at the ripe old age of 6 or 7, I went into the field behind the duplexes where we were living in California, untied a full-grown horse who was about a million times my size, and very proudly took it by the lead and clomped, clomped, clomped it through the duplexes and ‘parked’ him or her at my front door.
I then had the audacity to go inside and leave the poor thing outside. I announced to my mom ‘Guess what followed me home?’ She was not pleased! She was also not amused. Now she is – it is yet another of the Audrey stories that circulate in our family from time to time.
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Vicki circa 1971
Audrey circus 1971
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Where we met – Band Freddies united
My point being, this love affair I had with horses
I acquired out of the blue. No one in my family loved horses. To
finish the above story, I of course marched that horse back to its
pasture and retied it up as best I could. I then went to tell the owner
what I had done to make sure that the horse had not been missed and I
would not be prosecuted for ‘borrowing’ the horse! But I never forgot
that moment of feeling that huge animal walking behind me and nuzzling
my shoulder. I already had a name for it!
Years later and a lifetime of crazy experiences behind me, I arrived at age 13 and entered high school.
To say that I was a bit of a ‘drama queen’ would be putting it mildly.
In my defense, all of it was not my fault. I do not mean to digress,
but my life was a bit of trauma and drama so when I emerged as a young
woman entering high school, I was a bit of a mess to put it mildly. I
honestly didn’t know if I was coming or going.
All this is
said not to bemoan my childhood. It is what made me who I am and that
is a great thing! It is, however, to illustrate the magnitude of horses
riding in my life and how I viewed this ‘release’. I of course did not
own a horse. I didn’t even know anyone who did own a horse. When I
think back on it now, that should have been my M.O. – I should have
found a friend with horses and I would have been set for life!
did have a substitute though – somewhere along the way in high school, I
learned to make good money cleaning people’s houses. I was great at it
because I am by nature a neat freak and an organizer. My talents were
not wasted as I made really good money doing it.
time I was several years into high school, I was in need of outlets for
my stress – big time. Somehow or other, I remembered horses and that
became my first love. I would work to buy clothes but I’d always set
some aside most of my money for my one addiction – horseback riding.
Once I was able to drive, it was even better. I would go into the
hills outside La Mesa, California and head for the stables.
The Ride of a Lifetime
I would stride into the stables and without pausing for a moment in my excitement announce that I wanted the wildest, friskiest, biggest, fastest horse in the place. This was of course in the late 1960s when no one thought to put a helmet on someone riding a horse for recreation – nor did they seem particularly enamored of finding out if I actually knew how to ride! In fact, I learned ‘on the job’ – by saddling up one of the meanest, toughest, friskiest horses and just riding.
In retrospect, I think I had somewhat of a death wish – or at the very least, I needed to escape and feel free. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that free in my life – before or since. I would no more than get up on the horse than I was kicking him or her in the ribs and galloping out of the yard. The only stipulation for my $20 was that I not bring back the horse lathered up. No one went with me – no one demonstrated what to do – and no one seemed to believe that I might not know what I was doing.
Those rides across the fields and hills of San Diego were some of the best days of my life. I would leave everything behind and gallop full tilt for all I was worth for roughly 45 minutes – followed by 15 minutes of letting the horse cool down and not getting into trouble for over-tiring the horse. Some of the time I would just lean out over the horse and grab hold of the neck and feel like I was flying. I was cautious enough to never jump anything other than a very low log – I might have been a little ‘carefree and wild’ but I wasn’t insane!
At any rate, I would go alone on my wild rides and come back refreshed. I got to thinking that the only thing better than riding alone was perhaps riding with friends! I talked a group of 3 other girls into going with me one day – only that didn’t go so well. Before we even got out of the yard, one of the girls reined in both reins on the horse which led to the horse spinning in circles and she fell off and broke her arm. Not cool! After that, I could talk until I was blue in the face and not one of those girls was going back!
Ah, now she gets to the point of the tale! Vicki – my dear friend Vicki Coy now Coy-Alpaugh. She was my forever friend at a time in my life when I truly needed good people around me. We are remarkably still friends! Even at the ripe old age of 56 or 57, she totally gets me – and this is a supreme gift. At any rate, we met in band – marching band to be specific. I had wanted to be in the hand corps but I was informed by my mother and stepfather that only ‘sluts’ were in the hand corps (I don’t think my friends in the hand corps knew this).
I did not want to be in band – but if I had to be in band, I wanted to play the flute. Tough titties – I was not allowed to play the flute. I luckily did not have to play the piano as we strode down the street – too cumbersome and I could reserve that talent for private. Luckily, they also did not need an accordion player in the marching band – another whew!!! What would be the most non-sexy instrument for me to play – ah – the clarinet! Well, it could have truly been a lot worse now that I think back on it. I did well enough to pass muster and got into the band; in my final years, I actually was very good in spite of my dislike of the instrument – but I digress.
We were called Band Freddies – nice label and I do think in retrospect it was after a wonderful musician Fred Kidder who was several years ahead of us. However, Band Freddies was not a term of endearment – it was rather a kind of sneer about us being dorks. Oh well – we dorks hung together through thick and thin. It really was quite a wonderful part of my life and how I met many of my long ago friends and some of my friends through the decades, many of whom remain in contact and who I love dearly.
All this said, not many people were willing to go with Psycho Audrey on her little jaunts into the hills to run like the hounds of hell were chasing her. Can you blame them? They already knew what kind of ‘accidents’ befell those who had the nerve to ‘saddle up and ride’ with me! But Vicki, dear sweet, quiet, shy Vicki – she couldn’t stand for me to be stressed out. She knew how my moods fluctuated like the barometer and she only wanted me to be happy. That can be the ONLY possible way that I talked this dear sweet girl into accompanying me!
Off we went on a Friday afternoon. I remember driving and I remember Vicki asking me several times if it was safe. ‘Of course,’ I assured her – you see me coming back every time don’t you? ‘Vick – you are going to LOVE it I tell you – the freedom – the running – the sound of the hooves galloping – it’s like music!’ When I looked over, she was a bit wide-eyed but she was still in the car after all so how bad could it be?
We arrived, went into the barn and I proceeded to step right up to the fellow saddling up the horses. ‘Yeah – we know – fastest horse, wildest thing we got, the one who loves to run and needs to burn off some steam. Same for your friend here?’ ‘Ah – actually no – Vick – you tell them what you want and how big a horse you feel comfortable with’.
The look was priceless – I know she was going to say ‘But, Audrey – I don’t feel comfortable at ALL – is there like a horse with a cart – can I ride in the cart? At the very outside, can I drive the cart?’ But not willing to hurt my feelings, she said very quietly ‘One that I won’t get hurt on please’. I think that might have been a clue that we needed a little help – but as I say – things were different then. Pay your money, saddle up – and get outta the stable. Ride, baby, ride!
After looking over the large looming horse who was much taller than Vicki (and me for that matter), Vicki saw me sitting atop my horse just primed to be off. She sighed a very long suffering sigh and then proceeded to try to get up on the very large though very gentle horse. Finally as I recall, someone got the idea that Vick might need a little help so they dutifully helped her get up on the horse and handed her the reins.
I think we gave her all of about a 2 second lesson – ‘do this, whatever you do, don’t do this, and when you want to stop, let me know’. I was literally chomping at the bit to get off and run and true to form, Ms. Considerate led Vicki out of the stable to the stable yard, and proceeded to do what I did – kicked my horse into high gear and off I went galloping like a loon.
Did I stop and think for 1 second that my poor, devoted, loyal friend Vicki had never been on a horse? Of course not! That is the stupidity of youth and I fully take responsibility for my insensitivity. Of course her horse followed mine – albeit at a slower pace because she did not have a horse named ‘Wicked’. I did, however, look back – and was satisfied that I must have told her something right because she was still on the horse, and she was galloping along. I, however, did not take into account that her eyes were now as big as platters and she was bouncing up and down on the horse like a ball, and that she was flailing her arms all over the place in an effort to stay on and keep up with me (all of which were not her choice unfortunately).
We were out in the meadows and I decided to take one of the beautiful curving paths – I was convinced now she would fall in love with horseback riding just like I had – when she saw the beautiful fall-time meadows and rode like the wind, she would be in horse heaven so to speak and we would be here all the time! I was so jazzed – I looked back to wave my arms as if to embrace all the beauty around us but when I looked back, I didn’t see someone who looked all that enthralled. In fact, I didn’t see Vicki in the saddle at all.
Actually, Vicki was in the saddle after all – but the problem seemed to be that the saddle was sliding sideways on the horse. In retrospect, it seemed that the horse had bloated up while they were cinching his saddle on and upon exhaling while we were galloping – bad news for Vicki! At first, sh
e was almost on top of the horse, but then as I watched in absolute horror, she was now riding side saddle – or on a saddle that was sideways on the horse.
She opened her mouth to scream or yell – or most probably say something very well deserved on my part as to the stupidity of this exercise when she just kept on going. The saddle kept slipping and pretty soon, unable to hold on any longer, my wonderful friend Vicki disappeared as she dropped off in a lump into the tumbleweeds and the horse ran on – with the saddle now down on his underside. He galloped off into the sunset – mission accomplished!
I was afraid to turn back – I was afraid not to! What if my poor friend was mangled and in a million pieces in the bushes? What if she’d broken something? What if she hated me and never wanted anything to do with me again? Of course, I did the honorable thing and spurred my horse to the place where I’d seen her pitch into the weeds, and just as I did so, up she popped. She was walking bless her heart – her glasses were on totally crooked and she had huge pieces of tumbleweed stuck to her hair, stuck to her clothes – everywhere!
She was muttering – I had to get closer to hear – she was saying something about what kind of stupid idiotic person goes horseback riding? What kind of stupid idiotic person believes this is a fun thing to do when they could have just been home reading or watching TV? What kind of a stupid idiotic person wants to do this? Thankfully, she wasn’t asking what kind of a stupid idiotic person wants to have a friend who happens to be crazy?
I offered to boost Vicki up onto my horse and get her safely back to the stable but surprisingly, she did not want to have anything to do with another horse. She told me very politely that she’d just limp on back to the stable and wait for me there – could I possibly go and retrieve the horse for her though? Huge sigh – of course I could.
So I rode off into the sunset and found her horse, tethered it to my horse, and for once quietly rode back to the stable, where I found Vicki sitting on the bench just patiently waiting for me. She very politely told me that riding just didn’t appear to be her ‘thing’ and would I mind terribly riding without her? I actually didn’t have the heart to continue but she insisted that since I’d paid, I should go ahead and ride. The stable was very nice and refunded her money since I think she was on the horse all of 5 minutes!
I remember galloping about – after asking Vicki over and over if I should continue – and reflecting on how riding a horse could be a wonderful release, but that more importantly, having such a good friend was a far greater thing to have in my life. When I returned, Vicki was fully recuperated from her ‘adventure’ and we laughed and chatted all the way home. Lucky for me, it did not hurt our friendship and although she never went with me again, she laughed about it and took a good deal of teasing about it in her typical gentle way.
Most importantly, we remained friends. Even though we lost touch for several decades as I never went back for reunions, we connected again and it was like we’d always been friends. This hub is dedicated to my terrific friend, Vicki and all the many good times we’ve shared – then and now! Even if we live far apart, we still enjoy each other’s friendship – although Vicki says now that she doesn’t remember her wild horse ride! Who can blame her? I’m just so grateful she wasn’t hurt!
Later in Life
I never forgot my love of horses after high school. It was a while before I was able to go riding again but one summer, I visited an old grade school chum. She just happened to have a horse across the street that was untamed and of course, who volunteered to ride bareback? You guessed it.
I spent the better part of a week riding this horse, being scraped off on the barn, being scraped off on the corral, and finally being thrown head over mane to the ground when the horse stopped. I was bucked off more than I was on – and I had a raw behind by the time I went home a week later. But I have to say – it was one of the best weeks of my life. I had a blast! My poor friend Jeanne probably did not see the upside of this, however. We did a lot together and spent a lot of time at the beach, etc. but she knew my heart was always with the horse.
A few months later, I entered a barrel racing contest with some friends – and almost won it. I seemed to get the knack of it quite easily – and my horse was fantastic. We had the best time running – although this was a charity event and we had to do it with a whole uncooked egg in our mouth! Just as I galloped over the finish line with my winning time intact, my horse stomped down and gulp went the egg. But it was a kick!
Further down the road a bit, I met Bob – the love of my life. We were dating and in an effort to please me, he agreed to go horseback riding. He did not want to go horseback riding and he made this quite clear. He had been in Vietnam twice, but he frankly was not enamored of horses because they were huge and they had hooves – they could kick a guy when he was not looking as he put it – or throw him from here to kingdom come in a flash. Ah, but so like the people who have loved me, he did it for me.
Off we went to the same stables I had always gone to in high school. And again, in marched Ms. Audrey Horsewoman and asked for the meanest, fastest, wildest horse they had. This time not to burn off anxiety or feel free, but just for the sheer love of horses. By this time, I just loved to ride and to ride at a full out gallop. Poor Bob – he did much as Vick had done – asked for the slowest nag they had and proceeded to sigh all the way through getting up into the saddle. He looked at me endearingly as if to say ‘Are you sure we have to do this? I love you but COME ON!’
Well, off we went. If anything, I had learned from my experience with Vicki not to spur my horse into a gallop and expect Bob to follow me. I spent some time walking patiently with him, showing him what to do and how to turn the horse, etc. However, he wasn’t really paying that much attention to me and he was getting frustrated with my ‘instructions’. Finally he said none to cheerfully ‘Go on – go ride – I can do this! What do I look like, an idiot?’ Well, okay – if that’s how you want to be about it, it didn’t take me long to go into ‘wild gear’ and go galloping off across the meadows.
After I’d been riding a while and needing to cool down the horse before I headed back to the stable, I started to scan the horizon looking for kemo sabe (that made me Tonto of course). I looked and looked where I thought he should be but no Bob. Then I started to scan upwards towards the hills although I couldn’t really imagine him galloping up into the hills since he didn’t seem like he was that enthralled! Up next to a very large water tank up on stilts, high on a gentle hill, I discovered the love of my life. He was still on horseback but he was trying desperately to kick his horse and get it to move – as in quickly! (Now he decides he wants quick)
I quickly galloped within range of him so I could shout out to him ‘Are you okay?’ I got the look that would kill – even from that distance I could see the scowl – I could almost hear the swearing that he was undoubtedly doing – at least in his head. He was having a devil of a time getting this horse to even move – it was quite fixated with something on the ground it seemed! It wasn’t after the grass and wasn’t trying to graze or anything – it just simply did not want to leave.
Finally, after many minutes, and many kicks I might add to the poor horse, here he came – trotting very unnaturally in the saddle down the little rise to join me. He was furious! I couldn’t believe it – what the heck could I have possibly done (other than suggest this marvelous outing) to warrant such behavior? Well, I found out pretty fast!
‘I really hope you are totally happy – I have never been so GD!@ embarrassed in my entire freaking life!’ I was really astounded – ‘Because you were riding a horse? Good grief, Bob – people ride horses all the time – what’s the big deal?’
‘Well, if you want to know Little Ms. Annie Oakley – I guess not EVERYONE rides up on a couple doing it in the grass! Are you satisfied now?? I couldn’t even get the damn horse to LEAVE – it was like it wanted to stay and watch the show!’
I maintain to this day – none of it was my fault – and it certainly was NOT my fault that a certain Navy man could not even get his horse in hand so to speak to get him to move out of the area. It was also not my fault that that couple had the great idea of making out and having sex under the water tower! And if a certain person had listened to my very detailed instructions on how to handle a horse….well, we can only surmise how it would have turned out.
After he calmed down and as we walked our horses back to the stable I said very casually (knowing he was past his mad) ‘So…what did you say by the way when you galloped up on these poor people?’ It really would have been tricky to think of something. He shrugged, embarrassed all over again and said ‘Oh – you know – something like so how’s it going?’ I was laughing myself sick of course by now and was wondering if that killed the moment for them to be honest! What do you say to a naked couple when you happen to ride upon them on horseback? I guess ‘Have you seen Tonto go by here?’ would have been really lame!
Summing It Up
I haven’t been on a horse in years – I dream about galloping across a field many times – my malamutes running full speed beside me. Of course, it is in a fenced meadow! No trusting malamutes!
I did go riding one more time with Bob – he did not go because of me but rather because of some friends who had the brilliantly wonderful idea of going to a horse ranch as a day trip. We rode the hills and had a fantastic dinner afterward. It could only have been better if we had stayed overnight in the cabins and ridden for several days. Lucky for Bob, we had not come prepared to stay.
At any rate, we saddled up (I saw Bob shaking his head) and off we went. Only nowadays, you are only allowed ‘designated’ gallops so there was no free spirited galloping across the meadows for me. Still, it was very beautiful climbing the trails and looking out over canyons and rivers – beautiful scenery – and feeling the horse beneath me, smelling leather and horse. Bob was riding in front of me and I became obsessed with laughing at his riding ‘technique’. This is why God got me back – because I had the nerve to laugh at my darling husband and his butt waddling side to side in the saddle.
He turned around and gave me the glare – and said very pointedly ‘Quit laughing at me!’ I of course tried to sober up and be good – this is a lost cause I’m afraid. About this time, my girlfriend pointed out to me that my cinch had come undone. Remembering Vicki’s fateful ride because of a cinch problem, I immediately was seized with panic and bent over to check the saddle myself – all the while continuing to ride.
Too bad my friend didn’t happen to mention that there was a tree approaching – nor did my charming husband who was still ticked at me about the giggling. Of course, in retrospect, he didn’t really know what I was doing so he was off the hook. At any rate, about the time that I sat up straight in the saddle, a very large, pointed branch came into my very immediate view, and proceeded to jab me in 2 perfect fang-marks – right in the forehead!
The phrase ‘You’ll shoot your eye out’ immediately came to mind – I shrieked out a very colorful swear word which echoed all over the canyon – and definitely got my husband’s attention as he whirled around so fast in his saddle that he almost fell out. ‘Are you out of your mind swearing like that?’ he bellowed. My retort of course was totally refined ‘Look at my bleeding forehead you moron – does this justify a little swearing – it was only ONE word!’
Of course, the entire string of horses had to stop then – and the guide had to get a bandage for my forehead – just call me Flicka with my new big star! They were all torn between being concerned and laughing like loons at my new ‘look’ – most especially my so called best friend!
So there you have it – tales of the horse. I would not have changed a moment of it all though to tell the truth. This one’s for you, Vick! Sure you don’t want to come here to redneck country and saddle up? I might not be as spry as I once was, but I bet I could still get up to a gallop – though I might wear a helmet nowadays!
We Could Try This, Vick!
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