Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
Policy Is PolicyPolicy Is Policy
My, but you’re a spirited mount, aren't you, sir? Unfortunately I must warn you. I ride mares only, thank you. Never stallions. I was permanently cured of riding stallions at the tender age of fourteen.
The "cure" came within two minutes of the start of my third horseback-riding lesson. English tack and bridle, of course.
My usual steed, a gelding named Chief, was unavailable that sunny Saturday morning. However, a new horse to the stable, Cheyenne, was ready and I had been assured that he was every bit as gentle as Chief (when you don't know what to look for you believe what you're told). Cheyenne was no gelding.
Cheyenne was a stallion. All stallion.
From the moment I mounted, he knew precisely who was in charge and it definitely wasn't that bespectacled little twit trying vainly to remain perpendicular astride his broad back. Slyly, he patiently waited just long enough for me to acquire that, oh! so delightful, false-sense-of-security to fully set in. Then he took off ---at full bore!
I didn't have time to be scared. I didn't have time to do very much of anything. All that I could do was stupidly hold on for dear life as Cheyenne, now flat-out (he had a hole-shot to rival that of John Force) headed straight for a six-foot high fence.
It was patently obvious that Cheyenne had every intention of jumping that fence—preferably, sans rider. Quickly (I had a choice?) I decided to perform a running dismount. Only having seen it done by the likes of such "experts" as: Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger, I copied what I had seen to the letter.
Hollywood's a wonderful teaching tool for teenagers still virgin in many ways. They think they know what they're doing, but, of course, they haven't got a clue. For a very nearsighted kid intently watching a fuzzy, fluttering black and white image, Hollywood did all right by me. They got it right and so did I.
With a joyful whiney of triumph, Cheyenne leapt gracefully over the fence, with a meter and more to spare.
I, none too steady on my feet, forced mutely with forbearance to attend the wrath of my instructor as she incessantly—and loudly—told me I must remount immediately. Calmly I waited for the old girl to run down and then told her where to put it. As she didn’t seem to get the point I gave her directions. Eventually the penny dropped and, gasping like a beached blowfish, she indignantly declared, “Well, I never!” As if on cue, the other ringed riders sang out in chorus, “What? Never?” Deciding not to play second chorus to Her Majesty’s Straightlaced Pinafore, I doffed my helmet and strode slowly to the fence to watch Cheyenne disappear into the distance.
Many years later I had occasion to meet an acquaintance of my older sister: a gentleman by the name of Ian Miller. Ian, partly out of friendship for my sister and partly to encourage a new and competent rider (Hilary can convince anyone of anything), gave me the opportunity to go for a turn ‘round a local horse-jumping course astride his best friend: Big Ben. To say I was taken aback by Mr. Miller's proposal would be putting it mildly. I was flabbergasted! That such an accomplished, internationally-renowned equestrian such as Ian Miller would even consider entrusting me with such a superb, intelligent and, at 17½ hands high, huge animal, left me momentarily speechless. I declined, however, as I had, by that time, made it a firm policy: I refused to ride stallions.
To say that in all likelihood I had passed up a unique and wonderful opportunity would be gross understatement, but policy is policy.
I'll stick to mares, thank you.
Originally © November 2003
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