A few weeks ago, my husband and I spent two days at the local fairgrounds' horse arena. The event was for the Washington State Mounted Shooters and we'd made a pair of spurs for one of the trophies handed out. We set up a vendor table and met a lot of nice folks, sold some stuff, suffered the heat, watched a big fire blow up over on Mt. Adams, and listened to some tall yarns from the chink-maker set up next to us.
Pete had previously made a set of spurs, sporting the initials WSMS, a pistol and the customer's initials for the "rangemaster" of this group. She sat on her horse all day in the arena and reported to the announcer and records' keeper the score for each rider.
We enjoyed her short visits and getting to meet Merlin, her horse.
Julie was not a rider when she joined the WSMS a couple of years ago, so she told me that she had looked for a dead-broke horse to buy that would enable her to become a part of this family-oriented, horse-related club.
Merlin looked very old to me, though she said she was told he was 14. I didn't look at his teeth. But it was plain to see this horse was bullet-proof. Right down to his toes. He stood around half-asleep every moment I saw him over two days' time and never took notice of anything. Looked to be the perfect horse for Julie.
When she rode up to our tent the first time, I went out from behind the table and pet the old sorrel. The feel of his hair-covered hide was so natural to me, even though I had not, til that time, touched a horse in a year and a half. For 40 years, there was never a day that I didn't have my hands on a horse. I never thought I'd be 18 months without touching one. But, there I stood. And I didn't cry. I was okay.
I walked around him and ran my hand softly over his hip, looking at her saddle as I went. She had a pretty nice rig on him.
The next day when she stopped by, I again went out and said hi to Merlin. It popped into my mind, "I bet Julie would let me ride him around a bit if I asked."
Almost as soon as I thought those words, Julie said, "I don't want to start anything, but if you wanted to ride him, I'd surely not mind."
I said, "You bet I would." And I turned to my husband and said, "Julie says I can ride Merlin around here a bit. Is that okay with you?"
Pete firmly stated, "You are NOT going to ride that horse! No way!" I could almost hear words akin to alarm recordings in a fancy car: "Step away from the horse!"
I accepted his judgment as being better than mine, and I declined her offer and she understood. I knew Pete was right. My doctor told me that for me, riding is "suicidal," adding, "If you fall off, you die." I was sure I wouldn't have fallen off (though, who is ever sure?) but I knew that if I rode the horse, I'd be heartbroken and, also, I would start nurturing the thought of having my own old, dead-broke, bullet-proof, half-dead-on-his-feet horse.
It was for the best.