This morning (Sunday) I’m doing something I don’t usually get to do: I’m watching the series of shows that make up the “Equestrian Nation” segment of RFD-TV. Everything about horses–breeds, care, training, competitions, related products. RFD-TV, not available to everyone, can be immensely dull with crop talk and cattle auctions, and some of their evening programs consists of shows almost as old as I am (Hee-Haw, for instance). But it’s still one of my favorite channels. Maybe it’s nostalgia; maybe I’m old. I don’t know, but other than the Food Network, sporting events, and some shows on other channels, there isn’t much on TV for me anymore. I’m not interested in keeping up with the Kardashians, I don’t particularly care what happens with Kendra. The real housewives of whatever city don’t strike me as real at all, and the huge variety of shows where women behave badly leaves me cold. My stars. What young American women find entertaining–I can’t find the words. What worries me–and I’ll get back on topic in a sec–is that the young ladies watching these will believe they’re “real life,” and such behavior is not only okay, but expected.
Then, again, I wonder when I turned into my mother–which leads me to wonder whether that really is a bad thing.
Oh well. Back to it.
Perhaps it’s cliche, but I have always wanted horses. Always. I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t green with envy over friends who were blessed enough to ride on a regular basis. Even today, I rubber-neck at every horse-dotted pasture and burn with envy whenever I see a trailer hauling these wonderful creatures from one event to another. I don’t care what it is: high-brown Eastern show jumping or down-and-dirty bronc busting, I love horses and equine events. Although I wish it had been covered more completely, my favorite viewing experience for the entire year was the World Equestrian Games.
Today’s favorite was the Cutting Horse Futurity. This event includes horse (usually a Quarter horse), rider, and small herd of calves. The object is for the horse and rider to cut one calf from the herd and keep it separate. Unlike many other events, this one belongs to the horse–the cowboy just picks out the calf and holds on for the ride.
And what a ride it is. The horse isn’t racing, with mane and tail flying behind him, he isn’t rearing up or doing tricks. He’s studying the eyes of the calf in front of him, anticipating the moves, twisting on his back legs at just the right moment to thwart the calf’s efforts to rejoin the group. Haunches down, front legs prancing, the horse bounces left or right, dashes this way or that, and succeeds at his task.
One bay gelding was a thrill to watch. You could see in his eyes how much he enjoyed his job. He lowered his front legs to get eye-level with the heifer and dared it to move. “Com’on, com’on. I gotcha. Don’t matter where you go, you ain’t gettin’ far.” And the calf didn’t.
Long after the buzzer sounded, the bay continued to block the calf from the herd. Now that’s dedication!
I’d love to be part of that team, to sit on the animal’s back while he does his thing, to feel his muscles tighten in anticipation, to feel the spring of his leap while he blocks his prey.
Then again, I’d love to be on any horse doing just about anything. I envy people who can look out their windows and see their animals graze, or head to their tack rooms for saddle and reins to gear up their mount for the day. Yep, I’m jealous. Rural green.