Red Gypsy…

I couldn’t believe my luck. All of the ranch horses were next to the fence. Usually, they were way out in the pasture, unavailable for viewing. I had been told to stay away, too little and could get hurt. That was my invitation to get as close as I could. I walked up to the fence and stuck my hand through the grey weathered boards.”Come here” I asked. One mare looked at me with one eye, then looked down again and continued what she was doing. Her upper lip was pushing rocks out of the way while she found each little grain of oats that was lying on the dirt. Her ears twitched in my direction as she watched me change position. “Come here, sweet girl” I asked again, trying to appeal to her vanity. Her head shot straight up when I struggled to my feet, she watched my every move. They said this mare was trouble. She was red and named Gypsy. She belonged to my uncle, Scott and I had never seen anyone ride her because she could not be caught. Even with a bucket of grain…as soon as she saw a rope or halter she would leave. She was impossible. Because of this, she was the one I wanted to touch first. I climbed to the top board of the fence, balanced there and made my plan. A large bay mare with a relatively new foal walked over to investigate. She smelled my knee and I reached down to rub her forehead.

The swirl of hair between her eyes looked like a small tornado and felt warm in the sun. She was too easy though and I wasn’t interested in spending time on her. Her baby was slick and shiny orange with a jet black mane and tail. He had been named Punkin and I wondered how I could prevent him from becoming hard to catch. I had a pony that had dumped me a couple of times for asking her to do things she didn’t want to. I rode her bareback up and down the hills now, through creeks and ate lunch on her back while she grazed. I was very confident I knew what I was doing now that I had all of six years life experience under my belt. Suddenly, maybe due to jealousy or hierarchy, Gypsy dove at the bay mare, her teeth bared and ears flat, her head like a weapon on the end of her neck. The mare moved off quickly and Gypsy came over to check out what was going on at the fence. Here she was, so close I could touch her. I reached down into the top of her mane and scratched. She wiggled her lips with pleasure and I knew this was my chance. While scratching, I slipped one leg over her back and settled in behind her withers, the consequence of which I had not considered. She turned her ears in my direction, acknowledging my presence and began to walk away from the fence. I hadn’t considered this. I hoped to just sit there for a minute and then get off. The hand scratching her mane grabbed a big hunk of long red hair. She walked around the small band of horses and began to trot. As my knees tightened on her shoulders I realized I was completely at her mercy. My butt bouncing on her back was an invitation to speed up and soon she began a slow lope toward the trees and my life passed before my eyes. I slid to the left and then to the right, always bringing myself back to center. If I got hurt, I would be in a lot of trouble and not be trusted to go looking for the big horses again. I prayed I would be lucky enough to get out of this with maybe a skinned knee. She slowed back to a trot and turned to go back to her friends standing at the fence and water trough. Hanging on to her neck, I saw the fence get closer and thought I would slide down if she stopped. She came to a rest next to the other horses and close enough for me to gently slip off onto the top board. I grabbed it and watched her walk away like nothing had happened. My heart in my throat, this life changing experience would set the trajectory for my life.

5 thoughts on “Red Gypsy…

  1. Ooh, I can really feel the intensity of your experience and how it must have been such a pivotal point in your life…I’ve recently become fascinated with horses, and to read your blog is such a pleasure. Thank you!

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