Saturday, April 16, 2016

Friends Take Friends Riding: Guest Post by Candace Wade

Kimmy and Candace
Friends Take Friends Riding
by Candace Wade, Author and Equestrian

I am the “horse slut” on the Horse Nation team.  I don’t own; I rent.  I started riding later in life.  I don’t pretend to know what I don’t know.  This also makes me a born again horse rider.  I proselytize.  I believe everyone should ride.  That’s why I nudged my since-diapers friend Kimmy to come riding with me while I was on a story-scouting trip in my birth home of Los Angeles.  Oh, Kimmy doesn’t ride.

Kimmy and I did Barbies, Brownies, Girl Scouts, Sunset Blvd music venue crawling, snow skiing and navigated our early marriages together.  She still lives in "El Lay.”  I live in Nashville.  I camped at her house while I was in town researching equestrian stories and for an interview on the Writer’s Block for L.A. Talk Radio.  I had planned two horseback rides at rental stables.  Besides wanting to share my horsey-happiness, I believed that we could build new memories to layer onto our old ones.  Kimmy should come riding with me.  She just should.

One of my missions as a “horse slut” is to remind experienced riders that non-riders can find perching on the back of a horse to be daunting.  My other mission is to reach out to the nervous and assure them that they are not alone in their visions of all the “what-if-scary- things” that can happen on the back of the horse.  Those things mostly don’t happen and the rewards nourish great stories for years to come.

Kimmy’s agreement to hike her leg over the saddle for the first ride through Griffith Park was as weak as a one-dip tea bag.  The first stable we checked out just didn’t have the right vibe for either of us.  We drove down the street to scope our other choices. “Turn left!” I shouted.  I had a warm teen-hood memory of a stable on Mariposa Street. Kimmy jammed on the brakes and executed a wide left.  There it was!  The Circle K.

The guide, Dar, had smiley eyes, was kind and answered all of her questions.  He would take us out alone and Kimmy could set the pace.  My goal was to float down my equestrian memory lane not beat the trail speed record, so whatever pace Kimmy wanted was okay with me.

Dar and I led so Kimmy was assured her horse wasn’t going “yeehaw” down the trail with her.  She had a vise-grip hold on the horn, but her leg position was terrific.  Shoulder-hip-heel, head up, shoulders back.  Perfect.  Dar chatted with us and Kimmy chatted back.  With a few basic suggestions, my friend was enjoying her horse ride. 

Memory-building moments like this must be recorded, so Kimmy and I lined up our horses for the money shot.  We held hands like we did as little girls. Her clutch on my hand would have been okay except that her horse noticed some tasty greens on the side of the trail and moseyed over to munch.  It didn’t dawn on Kimmy to let go of my hand.  I struggled to free myself just before she pulled me off my saddle.  Okay, this was good.  We will have some goofy stuff to sweeten the memory.

Kimmy was all-in for our next ride the following day.  We drove out to Malibu Riders at Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains.  She enjoyed showing me all the changes in the area that had occurred since we used to drive the canyons to Zuma beach.  She shared joyful stories of her son’s wedding that was held near where we were would ride.  In other words, she was relaxed and into whatever lay ahead.

Once again, the rental-barn-karma was perfect for our adventure.  The horses and equipment were well cared for.  Scott, the guide, was enthusiastic and informative.  We rode with a father and teen daughter – both newbies.  Scott explained everything horse and safety related in a way that was clear and not insulting to them or to me. We rode through the western town set used for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Scott made all the Hollywood film sites we passed come alive.  Kimmy was right with him in the discussion because she had spent some time at that park. She was hip to some of the film history.

Kimmy was riding. Kimmy was now a member of the horsey set.  She engaged the teen daughter in conversation and was successful in drawing her out.  She was calm enough to take photos when we crossed the creek where they filmed the gun fight with Kurt Russell in Tombstone.  Her grip on the horn was a little less tight.  Kimmy was having fun.

I had so many stellar moments in those two days.  One of the most satisfying was when Kimmy dismounted, ”got her legs” and said, “That wasn’t such a big deal.”  Yes!  Kimmy had shed so many of the “what-if-scary-things” along the trail that she decided to take her sister riding.   Bye-bye “scary things, hello self-confidence.  Kimmy and I got to share something that I loved, but more than that we energized our 60 year old friendship by having a new adventure.

I’m an older, recreational rider who rents.  I feel lucky and exhilarated every time I ride.  Like any other tasty treat, we want to share it.  We do have a responsibility to make sure we take care of our friends.  We make sure that the stable and terrain feels safe for our friend.  We remember the ride isn’t about us showing off our equestrian skills.  The goal is to honor the gift of love – friends take friends riding.

More from Candace…
Candace’s Riding & Writing interview
Missouri Misery a short story by Candace Wade
Riding with Elizabeth a short story by Candace Wade

Kimmy and Candace


sumik said...

I love this dtory. Thanks for sharing it

C. Wade said...

Thank you, thank you. Riding with my childhood friend was a permanent memory for me. We created a new memory to layer onto the old ones. Thrilled me that it was on horseback. Thank you. Hope you are building new memories, too.

Gina said...

You're awesome, Candace! I love your stories and your connection to horses! Happy Trails!