Death by Bucking Horse

There was this one horse. His name was Houdini, and he was solid, pure black. I had always wanted to ride Houdini but I was always told that my skill levels weren’t high enough, or that he was too “green.” When I got to riding Layla and a pony called Dixie my mind wandered away from Houdini.

When sophomore year came around, I had first seen Houdini during my freshman year, I saw much less of Houdini, but occasionally I would still see him around. I wasn’t sure where he went at all, but I slightly remember someone telling me that he was either out in pasture or being trained by someone else.

This year, my junior year, he’s back, and I continued to ask to ride him. For two months I got continuous no’s but with promises of “wait until we ride him for a week,” or, “once you’re able to keep your back straight.” I kinda gave up hope by the second month, really.

Winter sports started, and the current horse I was riding was needed by another rider. I remember walking into the barn and then being jumped upon by an instructor. “I have exciting news for you!” she said. For some reason I had literally no idea what she would have said. “We’re gonna put you on Houdini!”

Internally I was jumping up and down like a little girl who had finally gotten a pony for her birthday, but on the outside I just took a couple breaths and said “wwwwwoooooooowwww oh thank gods yes finally…”

Houdini was still extremely green and didn’t seem to understand how large he was. He would swing his head around and try to cuddle (I think) me but would end up knocking me into a wall or the gate. I learned how to move quickly and duck away within the first few days.

We believe that Houdini is part Friesian – Royal Friesian Horse, that is. They look like cousins of Gypsy Horses, and they’re a stunning breed. The way they walk, trot, and gallop is extremely upright and almost stiff, like every step they take is deliberate. In my mind I called them the “soldier horse” because they were so methodical with their steps.

Houdini could hardly walk in a straight line. Seriously, I’d try to keep him on the rail and he’d end up either running into it or turning away from it. He actually ran me into a jump pole once, but he’s learning, I think.

A skill that all riders must know is how to lunge a horse. The gist of it is basically to chase a horse around a little round pen while giving them instructions such as “trot” or “canter.” Houdini would trot and canter for a few circles, buck in my direction a few times, then stop completely and simply stare at me.

What I didn’t understand was what he didn’t understand. He followed my instructions perfectly, to walk, to trot, to canter, yet he would always stop a few minutes in and stand square in front of me, unmoving. Even when I tapped him with our bright, neon-orange whip he would stare at me like “what are you doing I did not sign up for this.”

Oh, and he bucks. Like, a lot. If I keep the reins a little too long at the trot he lowers his head and starts bucking. Or that’s the official term, what Houdini does is more like pronking. Usually done by antelopes, pronking is when they leap up into the air with an arched back and stiff legs.

Yeah, that’s what Houdini does. In an hour he pronks about 4 times and I have yet to fall off. There was one pronk, this one was more like a rodeo buck, where I crash-landed on the saddle and hit my knee on something hard. That was two days ago and I still have a massive yellow bruise.

(Mien gott look at that mane)

I call Houdini my Butternut Squash.

Squash because he likes to squash me against the walls of the stall.

Butter because his coat gleams like melted butter.

And nut because he’s the nuttiest horse I may ever ride.

The Importance of Accuracy in Journalism

Accuracy is the most important factor in a piece. All stories should be double checked for facts, sources and quotes in order for them to be believable. Journalists strive for factual stories.

Here are some examples of some mistakes:

1- Misspelling a name

2- Fake or not credible sources

3- Fabrication of Quotes

4- Fabrication of stories

5- Wrong title for a person (Mr., Ms., Mrs.,  Etc.)

On another note, the biggest fruit company in the world, Apple Inc. has shipped millions of its new delicious fruits called Iphones. Its former CEO Stephen Joobs, who passed out from money poisoning has come down from heaven to retrieve some of this new  delicious treats.

My Princess

The first horse I rode in OVS was Urbino. He was an old horse, mainly brown, and very tall. I constantly struggled to put his bit on, as he would always lift his head up above the reach of my arms. I’m 5’2 now. I was probably 5’1 or 5’0 two years ago, so I asked to switch horses that would either work with me better or was a tad shorter.

I switched horses maybe one or two more times before settling for Layla. I believe she was at least part Gypsy, tall, sturdy, and one of the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. Her coat and mane was black and white while her tail was pure black. She was a massive horse, and had not been ridden a lot, so she was quite stubborn and didn’t quite like having the bit put in.

To my great dismay she would also lift her head up above arms reach, and for a while I got my taller friends to help me bit her. Being that short and weak was unbelievably frustrating.

Layla was a complete Princess, for she knew how tall and beautiful she was. The way she walked, the way she swayed when she lifted her feet up, made it seem like she was dancing down a catwalk.

Slowly she began to respect me, and after a while she seemed to understand that I was short and that I needed a little help when brushing her mane and putting her bit on. On the days where she felt good she would lower her head for me and on the days she seemed more stubborn she’d ignore me and let me struggle on my tiptoes.

She was pretty darn lazy, plodding along with her feet picked up high. A whip helped, but I had to teach her that she had to walk at a relatively quick pace and not hang her head. She learned quickly and was probably my smoothest ride ever.

I rode Layla for about a year and then moved on to different horses, but I visit her every day to brush out her mane and maybe give her a mint or a handful of grains. When I leave the barn I always look back, and she’ll always watch me leave with an inquisitive look on her face.

I always wonder what horses do all day, but maybe horses wonder what humans do all day too.

Equestrianism is Not a Sport… Say Football Players

One of the debates currently coursing through the student body at OVS is between football players and equestrians. The football players seem to think that horse-back riding is not a sport.

First of all, I’d like to invite football players to a sit-up competition. The equestrians would win.

Everyone who has sat on a horse even once can recognize the talent, skill, and hard work it takes for a 97 pound person (me) to maneuver a 1,500 pound animal to move forward, sideways, backwards, to jump and gallop and stop, all without looking like you’re doing anything. Not to mention the 1,500 pound horse has a mind of its own, a mind which most often, relishes in doing the exact opposite of what you want him to.

Horse-back riding isn’t a sport? Yeah right.

Whenever I can bully my dad into giving me a piggy back ride, which has been less and less often as I’ve grown taller, he has to remind me over and over again not to squeeze his sides with my legs. That would be because after thirteen years of gripping the sides of a horse, my legs are pretty strong.

Last spring, I decided to take a break from riding. For some reason, I decided to do cross-country running as my fall sport. First of all, that was a terrible idea. Secondly, I realized that I’ve gotten off a horse sweatier than I’ve been after a four or five mile run in ninety degree weather.  My muscles have been far sorer after a challenging ride than they have been after a long run.

Horse-back riding makes you use muscles you didn’t even know you had. It makes you focus, and plan out every move of each finger, arm, leg, and foot because the tiniest movement from any part of your body could send your horse off running or bucking. The horse can sense your fear. It can sense which way you look. It knows what you’re going to do almost before you do – and it loves to do just the opposite of what you’re asking.

So to the football players who think horse-back riding isn’t a sport (cough cough my editor in chief cough cough), I invite you to come to the barn and ride for sports one day. Forewarning, you’ll have a hard time moving the next day.

Time Jump