“No, I got it,” I said to my husband the first time we went horseback riding together. Though I’d never saddled a horse before, I’d seen it done a few times. You toss the blanket and saddle over their back then tie it on with the “strappy thingy” that wraps under their belly. How hard could it be?
Inside the tack shed, I found my opponent, resting on wooden planks to keep the saddle and blanket off the ground. I followed my husband’s lead, tossing the stirrups and “strappy thingy” on top of the leather seat like spaghetti noodles. When I lifted my saddle, the noodles drooped back into place, impeding my ability to walk. Then I noticed my husband hadn’t just tossed them on top but folded the dangling straps completely over. Ooooh. I put the saddle back down, fixed the problem, then proceeded to toddle after my husband with this surprisingly heavy and awkward piece of equipment cradled in my arms.
My husband tossed his saddle onto his horse with ease. Since he can also toss a 100-pound bale of hay with ease, I knew for me, it wouldn’t be quite that effortless. I shooed him away with another, “I got it,” then lifted with all my herculean strengthen. Though not as graceful as my husband’s movements, I managed to plop the blanket and saddle into place.
I reached under the horse and grabbed the “strappy thingy” which is actually called the cinch—and for good reason. The cinch is what keeps the saddle from falling off. You want this to be as tight as possible, so I heaved and jerked on that leather strap several times. When I’d finished, the strap was snug and in place. I was pretty proud of myself.
Then out walks my husband’s grandma. At the time, a seventy-ish-year-old woman, who even on her tiptoes doesn’t reach five-foot. “Dear, let me help you.” She took hold of the cinch, put her back to the horse, and yanked it over her shoulder. My sneaky horse, who had been keeping his stomach bloated, did know what hit him. Air expelled out of him like he’d been punched in the gut.
Remembering how that tiny old woman got the better of a horse much younger and bigger than her still makes me laugh. And to this day, I always let someone else check my mount before riding. Just in case, I ain’t got it.