Learning to Ride Bambi, The Quarter Horse

Bambi and I

Bambi and I

Bambi the quarter horse is an 8 year old bay mare with white markings. Together, she and her owner and trainer Anne Marie Sojquist teach me how to ride. My goal is to align my body’s movement with the horse’s. When we trot around the arena, I listen to the directions of Anne Marie. When I take the correct lead with Bambi on the trot and we move together, we enter a flow. For those few minutes, we are one being. The Greeks depicted this relationship with the mythological creature, the Centaur: human torso and head attached to a horse’s body and legs. The Centaur illustrates how much humans have admired horses and been enthralled with their movement and the opportunity to meld with the creature itself.

The quarter horse breed was developed during the 17th century from the Spanish conquistadores’ Andalusian, Barb and Arabian horses who were cross-bred with the early thoroughbreds brought from England in 1611. Quarter horses were first used as racing horses when races were usually only a quarter mile. Later, they were trained to work with cattle. Dependable in the heat and cold of the cattle drives before the range became fenced in and trucks and trains took over, these horses became the favorite of rangers for their endurance and even temperament. Today at rodeos you can still see quarter horses at work following cattle in short bursts of speed, then abruptly stopping for their riders who jump off and tie up the calves in a race against time. When I wake up on Saturday morning and head to the ranch on the other side of the St. Croix River, I feel a sense of excitement and adventure. Riding Bambi is one way I let out my “inner cowgirl.” It ignites a deep yearning for challenge and adventure. It gives me an opportunity to learn the language of another species and command the power of a 1000 pound animal.

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