The Girls Ride Again | TheFencePost.com

The Girls Ride Again

Carolyn White

We’re all looking a little different these days. Over the last thirty years we’ve moved, married, divorced, raised children, welcomed grandchildren…and lost touch, same as most everyone else.

Last summer, though, we ladies got to be kids once more, together for the first time since Stacy left our group in 1975. (Her father got transferred to Texas. We all cried.) Best part was, we were able to do it on horseback. After months of planning, we traveled to southern Ohio to meet at our high school reunion. While there, one magical afternoon on rented horses at a West Virginia stable, we simultaneously turned fifteen again.

We laughed as we pretended we were unable to stretch our stiff legs to the stirrups; made jokes as we took turns heaving each other’s expanded rears up into the saddles; and groaned out loud as we remembered how hard the leather felt. Riding at the end of a single-file line through the woods, I felt overwhelmed with nostalgia and joy. These were the friends that had shaped and formed my early life. Until that moment, I’d never realized just how much I loved and appreciated them. Leigh, Stacy, Missy, Helen, Jennie, Chrissy, Martha, Lora, Alison, Janie, Karen and I…we were wild things in the seventies. Although our family situations, backgrounds, temperaments, and experiences were different, we each had one huge thing in common – we loved horses and were lucky enough to have some of our own. We also lived in a rider’s paradise surrounded by hardwood forests, cornfields, warm, lazy rivers and endless miles of dirt country roads. On any given day that we weren’t in school, at least two of us – usually three or four – would be out exploring the territory together.

On early summer mornings I was often awakened by the distant thud of hoof beats with Missy, on “Ralph,” hollering towards my second-story bedroom window. (Mom would try her best to make me eat something before I ran out the door.) Missy would help me up behind her saddle, take me across the fields to the pasture where I kept my “Tee J,” and we’d be off, gone for the entire day.

Depending on how many girls there were at a time, the games we came up with were endless. We played “Bonanza,” taking turns being Hoss, Little Joe, or Pa. We were pioneers in search of a suitable place to build a cabin, or Indians on the hunt for a fat corn-fed buck. (The deer got so used to us that they sometimes didn’t even hide.) After the fields had been turned, we became jockeys, racing each other two by two to see who had the fastest mount that day.

Stacy fell off her “Princess” once at full speed, with Tee and I coming up too fast to avoid her. She tucked and rolled up into a ball at exactly the same moment that we jumped. Stacy still remembers the view of my long-gone mare’s underbelly. I still remember how it felt to fly…I’d never been airborne before that moment. Our childhoods were fun, but it didn’t always seem so at the time. As we entered our mid-teens, the rides became less active as we started stopping in shady areas to talk while our horses dozed beneath us. Intently, we’d work on the problems of the world or at least wonder how we were supposed to survive living in it. Our parents were being unfair. We were fighting with our brothers and sisters and we hated certain teachers in Junior High. We had crushes on older boys who didn’t even know we existed. Our hearts got pushed and broken, but we always had each other to help put things back together again.

Recommended Stories For You

We’re all looking a little different these days. Over the last thirty years we’ve moved, married, divorced, raised children, welcomed grandchildren…and lost touch, same as most everyone else.

Last summer, though, we ladies got to be kids once more, together for the first time since Stacy left our group in 1975. (Her father got transferred to Texas. We all cried.) Best part was, we were able to do it on horseback. After months of planning, we traveled to southern Ohio to meet at our high school reunion. While there, one magical afternoon on rented horses at a West Virginia stable, we simultaneously turned fifteen again.

We laughed as we pretended we were unable to stretch our stiff legs to the stirrups; made jokes as we took turns heaving each other’s expanded rears up into the saddles; and groaned out loud as we remembered how hard the leather felt. Riding at the end of a single-file line through the woods, I felt overwhelmed with nostalgia and joy. These were the friends that had shaped and formed my early life. Until that moment, I’d never realized just how much I loved and appreciated them. Leigh, Stacy, Missy, Helen, Jennie, Chrissy, Martha, Lora, Alison, Janie, Karen and I…we were wild things in the seventies. Although our family situations, backgrounds, temperaments, and experiences were different, we each had one huge thing in common – we loved horses and were lucky enough to have some of our own. We also lived in a rider’s paradise surrounded by hardwood forests, cornfields, warm, lazy rivers and endless miles of dirt country roads. On any given day that we weren’t in school, at least two of us – usually three or four – would be out exploring the territory together.

On early summer mornings I was often awakened by the distant thud of hoof beats with Missy, on “Ralph,” hollering towards my second-story bedroom window. (Mom would try her best to make me eat something before I ran out the door.) Missy would help me up behind her saddle, take me across the fields to the pasture where I kept my “Tee J,” and we’d be off, gone for the entire day.

Depending on how many girls there were at a time, the games we came up with were endless. We played “Bonanza,” taking turns being Hoss, Little Joe, or Pa. We were pioneers in search of a suitable place to build a cabin, or Indians on the hunt for a fat corn-fed buck. (The deer got so used to us that they sometimes didn’t even hide.) After the fields had been turned, we became jockeys, racing each other two by two to see who had the fastest mount that day.

Stacy fell off her “Princess” once at full speed, with Tee and I coming up too fast to avoid her. She tucked and rolled up into a ball at exactly the same moment that we jumped. Stacy still remembers the view of my long-gone mare’s underbelly. I still remember how it felt to fly…I’d never been airborne before that moment. Our childhoods were fun, but it didn’t always seem so at the time. As we entered our mid-teens, the rides became less active as we started stopping in shady areas to talk while our horses dozed beneath us. Intently, we’d work on the problems of the world or at least wonder how we were supposed to survive living in it. Our parents were being unfair. We were fighting with our brothers and sisters and we hated certain teachers in Junior High. We had crushes on older boys who didn’t even know we existed. Our hearts got pushed and broken, but we always had each other to help put things back together again.