Horseback Riding

For my birthday, which was the day after the Superbowl, Cadillac took me horseback riding. Totally planned and set up by him. He has been very good about birthdays ever since an early relationship birthday WTF moment when he took me to look for Bruce Lee’s grave in Seattle (don’t ask).

Anyway, he doesn’t like either of the teams that played (nobody in San Diego will ever really care for Eli Manning because of how he turned down the Chargers during the draft in a very entitled fashion), so we took advantage of the timing to go.

Not many people are out and about during a Super Bowl game, thus there was nobody at the horse ranch we went to. It’s way down south by the border; in fact, as you drive in to the Happy Trails ranch, you can see the hills of Tijuana beyond.

I asked for a lesson and he booked one, though he reported the ranch said they could just show us how to ride; I’ve never had a lesson. I’ve been horseback riding only a few other times. The first time was in 8th grade, with a friend who had been frequently. There was a girl not much older than us leading the ride, and she was very very bitter about having to take us out and kept yelling at me. My horse then was so fat and broad I actually got saddle sores, like actual broken skin.

The ranch is made to look like an Olde Western Town. There was a horse tied up outside who was not happy about it. I don’t know if he was in time out or what, but he got put away shortly after this photo.


We got on these two horses below (I was on the brown) and got our lessons. I was glad to finally get some instruction and could soon make the horse go around a series of poles. Cadillac was more advanced and they let him trot.


Then we went on our ride. I wanted to take photos but I was pretty sure I’d fall off the horse if I got the camera out of my backpack, so I didn’t. We could see the bullfighting arena across the border. The ranch is near a nature preserve; it used to be a cattle ranch. As we crossed a gully, the guide told us all the trash below us was washed there from Tijuana, and that all of it is maintained by volunteers. Up on the ridge there was a Border Patrol station. We saw an egret and hawks.

The guide began leading us across a weedy field, but then the horses kept stopping to grab bites, so we went back to the path.

My horse was somewhat of a diva, and she did not like to be in the back or in the front of our line. If she was in the front she kept looking behind her nervously. If she was in the middle, she didn’t like the back horse getting too close and got all miffed. When we were in the back she kept slowing down, and then running to catch up like she was afraid she was going to be stuck with me forever. The horse didn’t care that I hadn’t practiced trotting; she was giving me real world experience.

After that, we went to Phil’s BBQ, where the only customers were waiting for take-out for Super Bowl parties. Because I had burned thousands of calories and it was my birthday, I finally got to have all the sides I wanted: coleslaw, beans, and fries. And a house-made Whoopie pie. I didn’t really start hurting until I got home, though. I was actually all bruised up. Like purple and black and blue. Cadillac says I’m not cut out for such sports, though maybe I just have to toughen up a little.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

5 thoughts on “Horseback Riding

  1. “We got on these two horses below (I was on the brown) and got our lessons.” Originally I read that as “lesions,” and decided that made sense based on your saddle sores.

  2. Love this line: “The horse didn’t care that I hadn’t practiced trotting; she was giving me real world experience.” Great post!

    I think you’re very brave to get up on a horse, on any day, really, but especially on your birthday. We celebrated my birthday Super Bowl weekend as well, but I was all about the creme brulee martinis and birthday cake.

    I believe my spouse has always been a little disappointed that I wasn’t more sporty. The closest I’ve ever gotten to being sporty is kickboxing and that just seems to suit my personality more than anything else.

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