Special to the Tribune
This morning, just before I wrote this column, my granddaughter and I went for a short ride in the cool air. It is going to be hot. We were looking at being fresh riders on fresh horses.
We were mounted on horses still in training. That means we would have to at our best to both enjoy the ride and do what was right for the horses, as they needed to behave and respond to our signals for what we wanted them to do.
We will ride again late in the day to repeat the good experiences and lessons. Riders and horses both need to build trust of each other.
It is my grand daughter’s first ride of the summer. Why “back in the saddle” kept coming back to my mind I don’t know but I reflected on the meaning of that line. Many sayings from the days of horses and buggies persist and are used often by people who have no idea of the origin.
I asked her how it felt to be back in the saddle again. She said it was great. So I explained what I thought the meaning was in a more generic sense.
To me it meant a person was back in a familiar situation, task or job where confidence reigned in one’s mind.
Some of the family is picking a bumper crop of Honeyberries or Hascaps, an elongated blueberry type originating in Siberia I think. I am getting ready to go haying which I know will be a preoccupation for the next month.
But I will be back in the saddle again on that job, as I have done it for decades now. It is familiar.
Will it feel like the meaning of the song made popular by Gene Autry back in 1939?
I did not remember it as a Gene Autry song, but I must have heard the song a thousand times.
The song evokes the feelings of riding the range looking after cattle and land, sleeping out every night and of course traveling light.
The lyrics say, “back in the saddle again” out where a friend is a friend and the longhorn cattle feed on the lowly jimson weed.
One is riding the range once more “and the only law is right, Back in the saddle again.”
I vaguely remember Autry singing this on the radio and in the film from 1941, Back in the Saddle.
That was six years before I was born, so the film stayed around for years as a classic musical Western.
The best rides (on horseback and elsewhere) are where you feel comfortable and free.
One lesson I give to the kids as they learn to ride is to always have some pressure on their legs so that if the horse gets frightened and bolts or wheels around, they can stay in the saddle.
Rarely can you just ride and not be “on your toes”. You need to project that you are in the saddle which implies your are familiar with the surroundings and the horse, and in a way, in charge of the situation.
“Back in the Saddle” rings in my ears with the larger meaning being one of being in control of the situation. I won’t get the famous lines out of my head for days, as I ride around and around the fields on a tractor.
David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.