The Westside in January
It was an unusually warm day for the first week of January. The temperature was in the middle twenties and there was about an inch, of somewhat new, snow. The call went out to recruit hardy riders and their trusty equines for a few peaceful hours of riding in the sun. Four riders responded, one said, "I don't think so," two said, "count us in," and the fourth said, "I would but my horse, due to tendon problems, cannot be ridden bare foot." Well, that excuse lasted all of about 3 micro seconds and rider number two said, "no problem you can ride my 3 1/2 year old Colorado Ranger." She said the horse likes the Westside but has not been ridden in the snow! "Well, let me think about it, if you are sure it would be okay." The fourth rider said, "I accept the invitation to ride."
A few hours later the hardy few were grooming and saddling their mounts. The question came up should they take the saddle bags as they hold leg wraps, leads, wire cutters, a squirt gun, pop and other things all trail riders should have with them. A resounding yes filled the air. "You can tie them to the saddle on the 3 1/2 year old, she will be just fine with them," said rider number two.
So the threesome started out down the road to enter the Westside of Pontiac Lake Recreation Area. The road had been sanded so that the footing was good. The three horses, who were paddock mates, walked along in a tight rumpled formation. So tight that the riders kept bumping legs when one horse fell out of cadence with the other two. The attitudes of the horses were relaxed as were the riders. When they got to the three big boulders that marked the trail entrance, the horses singled up to walk in without even a tail flicking. The clumps of snow, the wind blowing through the small trees, the empty can on a string swinging from a pole, reflecting ever changing light was not causing tension or concern. These horses were solid, this was going to be a great ride.
They headed East to the main trail and then North. All three horses indicated a want to be in the lead. So the riders took turns reining back their mounts letting one then another be first. It was the 3 1/2 year old who had moved to the first position, walking so proudly, head up, ears forward and tail flowing, acting like one righteous filly. As she crested a slight rise in the trail, something caused her alarm. One, two, three small bucks with her rider still in the saddle. But with those small bucks came a flapping of the saddle bags. That was to much for the young horse, down went her head between her legs and with great thrust of her hind legs she kicked up and out. Her rider appeared as if he had been shot from a canon. As he cleared her head at an altitude of eight feet he apparently decided it was time to let go of the reins. From his then full layout position to a tuck position he did a 355 degree forward somersault landing first on his heels, then falling back on his most padded area and finally his shoulders. But then he bounded back up in the reverse order of his landing, exclaiming, "That Was Awesome!"