The Horse I Rode In On

Janet Coburn
3 min readJun 9, 2024

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It all started with a vulgar radio ad and turned into an adventure. ([sultry female voice: I wanna ride!])

I really hated the ads, but the premise was intriguing — a weekend horseback camping trip, complete with guide. So Dan and I gathered up Sheila and Harold — another couple who had an interest in horses — and signed up.

(All this was in the days before I abused my back by riding an Arabian horse bareback. The first time I annoyed it was when I had to carry wood up two flights of stairs or freeze to death. But I digress.)

Anyway, we met Larry, our guide, who showed up with four horses and all manner of camping equipment. He set up two tents for us and even found a way to connect my husband’s CPAP machine to power. Then we went out on the trail.

I didn’t have any trouble managing my horse at that point. But Sheila couldn’t get her horse to giddy-up no matter how she kicked, shook the reins, and verbally encouraged it along. It remained stubborn. (Later in life, Sheila and Harold bought horses of their own. Sheila even taught her horse dressage. But I digress again.)

The woods we rode through were as scenic as could be. There were trees that provided cool shade in the heat of the summer day. Unfortunately, Dan’s horse made a game of bumping into tree trunks and whacking his knees. The horses proceeded at a walk or a trot and occasionally broke into a canter. Frankly, I preferred the walk and the canter. The walk gave me time to look around and the canter was exhilarating and didn’t involve bumping up and down quite as much as the bruising trot.

We rode deep into the woods and then the nature, which was all around us, called. Dan had no problems with this (aside from getting down off his horse) and neither did Harold, but Sheila and I had to pee al fresco. (Fortunately, this was a skill I acquired in my youth on backpacking trips. I knew enough to carry tissues and avoid poison ivy. This is one of the only times I can truly be said to have had penis envy. But I digress some more.)

When we returned to camp in the evening, we learned that Larry was also our cook and an old hand at producing good meals over a wood fire. Not to say gourmet meals. This was before glamping was a thing.

Larry also rustled up a fine breakfast as we crawled out of our tents. We ached not just from the (admittedly) less-than-strenuous riding, but also from sleeping on thin tarps that only emphasized the pebbles beneath. We were all more interested in having several cups of very good coffee than getting back on the horses. This, of course, would cause a recurrence of the peeing problem later in the day.

Around the campfire that night, Larry told us how he had started his business and how other campers spent the whole time galloping their horses from one end of a field to the other and back again. No marauding trees or recalcitrant steeds for them.

The next day, we were back to our regular lives and jobs. There were some mementos of our experience. Dan had bashed-up knees. And you should have seen my inner thighs. (Well, no, you shouldn’t.)

While it was a memorable experience, we seriously doubted that we would be repeat customers. We were just too candy-ass. All in all, the adventure was like the Tower of Terror ride at DisneyWorld. It’s not that the horseback adventure was terrifying. It’s just that I’m glad I went on it once, but I’d hesitate to try it again, especially since my back won’t let me.

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Janet Coburn

Author of Bipolar Me and Bipolar Us, Janet Coburn is a writer, editor, and blogger at butidigress.blog and bipolarme.blog.