Conquests - Part 3

I have chased a bear on horseback.

Where I grew up in Montana, we had a small ranch that shared a boundary with 150 sq. miles of National Forest. For a teenager seeking some quiet time alone... it was perfect. At a moment's notice I could jump on my horse and ride off for hours, only telling my mother I was going for a ride. Looking back I think about all the terrible things that could have happened to me (murdered by a crazed mountain man, struck by lightning, broken neck after falling from said horse, etc.), but being young and invincible I never really considered all of those things.

One summer afternoon in 1996 seemed like the perfect afternoon for a ride. It was cloudy but not stormy, there was a light breeze, and the temp. outside was just over 80. I went to the barn, grabbed my bridle, and called for Ashes (she was named Ashes in May - - born on the day Mt. Saint Helens erupted). As always, she came tearing up the hill to me, I threw her bridle on and we were off.

We went up the old logging trail behind the ranch... an hour ride up to a clear-cut area that overlooked the town below. I jumped off Ashes and dropped her reigns to the ground and laid down in the Indian Paintbrush that covered the hillside. After about 15 minutes, Ashes seemed to have munched her fill of wildflowers and grass, so I stood up and got ready to climb back on her. Quite suddenly, a small herd of about 10 Whitetail deer went racing by within arms reach of Ashes and I... followed immediately by a young Black Bear.

The bear had no interest in me or my horse. He was transfixed on the deer trying to get away. Ashes began stomping aggressively. I jump up on her as quickly as I could, and once she knew I was on board she took off after the bear. I have never in my life had a ride like that... she ran like she was flying - - jumping over stumps and downed trees effortlessly. She was on a mission, and it was to catch that bear.

After about 500 yards we came to a barb-wire fence, and Ashes stomped on the breaks, nearly tossing me over her head. I jumped off and got her to calm down as she paced the fence-line glaring off into the woods after the beast that had narrowly escaped her rage. It took a long time, but finally she was ready to go back.

At home, I told my father about what had happened, only to have him start laughing that big, whole bodied, full grin laugh that told me he knew something I didn't. "Ashes is an old mare. Before she was a regular riding horse she was really only used for breeding. She has that maternal protective instinct. Once she stomped a wild turkey to death when it got too close to her colt. You actually rode her while she chased that bear?"

I did. I probably shouldn't have, but it was the most memorable ride of my life.


Blogger Debra said...

That had to be so incredible! When I was 13 or 14, me and my friend use dot jump on the horses and go out for a ride- tell Mom we were just heading up towards the hill East of the house or soemthing, and we'd be back before dark. It was generally dark before we ever started back, but we never ran into problems. We should have with all the stupid things we did though... lol. Once we stood on the horses backs (not me because my horse was anything but steady) and waved at a man in a very low flying bi-plane (think old crop duster type) who waved over the side at us. ANother time we were escorted out of an area by several coyotes. That's an entire story though.

The other thing we were fond of doing was going for rides in the middle of the night with a halter and lead rope, sometiems riding double, dressed only in bras and panties. That was the one time we got thrown a lot... hehe.

1:26 AM  
Anonymous rosie said...

very funny and cute story. I bet it was fun.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

That's an amazing story - and I love the horse's name!!

I've only ridden a horse twice - the first time she ran me into a tree and the second she tried to dump me into a gulley. Different horses each time...

2:18 AM  
Anonymous grill said...

Holy crap!! Chasing bears on horseback!!

i dont say this lightly: you should write a book.
Which I guess you already do, online.
Nevermind. But, you get what i mean!

miss you!

8:37 AM  
Blogger Conqueress said...

I am systematically trying to catalogue my life here... many of my stories are published, but no books just by me. It seems that once I get past about 45 pages my writing looses something. The stuff that goes on my blog is just the tip of the iceberg, and it lets me write in a way that is as random as my thought processes.

8:31 PM  

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