There is a poem called "When Cowboys No Longer Ride" that is about the old cowboys in the nursing home. Those who rode boldly and skillfully chased the steers now sit in a quiet room with curling Charles Russell calendars on the wall. I first heard it at a Cowboy Poetry gathering, and the tears flowed as I heard the old cowboy recite the poem about ageing and transitions.
A year ago, my good trail buddy, Bets, and I were riding Sweet Pea and Bart up the trails of Turtle Mountain, and remarking of the beauty of the cactus in their spring blooms. Who would have guessed that a year later Sweet Pea would have been put down due to a deteriorating leg problem, and that Bart would have been sold and heading to Montana. And no one would have thought that both Bets and I would be hanging up our spurs the same month.
Since getting her new mare, Bets has been in the ER three times. Lena stepped on Bet's foot, jumped going under a bridge causing Bets to hit her head, and last week, as Bets stepped down after a ride, she fell and hit her head. Yet another trip to the ER left her with a diagnosis of a concussion and severely strained neck. This feisty woman who reminds me so much of Katherine Hepburn, had to accept the conclusion that her riding career was over.
So as the desert displays her spring glory of greening grass, bluebells, golden poppies, and orange splashes, two riders will not be enjoying the show. My horse and trailer have been sold, and Bets has an ad in the paper this week for Lena. We have both shed many tears, and will do so for some time, I'm afraid. All my possessions that were in my trailer are spread out in my car port for a garage sale this weekend. So many, many wonderful memories. As the neighbors walk by and inquire as to why I am selling, I find myself tearing up again.
And so Bets and I are in a transition. Our time with our horses has been magical, but at some point, all cowgirls have to hang up their spurs. It is never an easy decision. I see a woman in a western hat out for her walk every day, and when I once asked her if she missed riding she said "Everyday".
It is hard to think of when "cowboys no longer ride".....and just as painful to think of the cowgirls who's riding careers have come to an end. So we must once again "Cowgirl Up", and face a new life with new possibilities. Transitions....when cowgirls no longer ride.