by Beth Clifton
On April 26, 1777, eight nights after Paul Revere rode his horse into our history books, spreading word that British troops sent to suppress American independence from Britain were advancing on Concord, Massachusetts, a 16-year-old Connecticut girl named Sybil Ludington set out into the countryside on her horse Star for what would be the most important and memorable 40-mile ride of her life.
Sybil, daughter of local militia Colonel Henry Ludington, had volunteered to alert her fellow citizens that the redcoats were fast approaching the city of Danbury.
Sybil rode her trustworthy steed throughout most of the rainy night, twice as far as Revere had ridden, from Carmel to Mahopac, Kent Cliffs, and on to Farmers Mills. Along the way she fought off an attacker with a stick. She raised an army of 400 volunteers who at the Battle of Ridgefield drove the redcoats back to Long Island Sound.
A memorable ride indeed.
Rides we never forget
Most of us who have had the pleasure and privilege of having horses in our lives have also had memorable rides, not necessarily of heroic dimensions, but remaining with us long after our equine friends have passed, in our hearts forever.
Each recollection of such a ride is a journey back in time and place to where, atop our horse, we felt joyful, carefree and one with our soulful equine friends.
This is truly a feeling not easily explained to someone who does not ride. A great ride is like poetry in motion, to use a hackneyed phrase, but it does feel just like that!
A girl’s burning desire for a horse
I was introduced to horses when I was about twelve years old. A girl from Miami Beach is not likely to be exposed to horses, but a very dear friend named Lisa who lived down the street was already finding ways to be around them and often invited me to join her.
This is when I realized how much I wanted horses to be a part of my life. For years after I first found ways to be with horses, I learned to ride and care for them. I participated in horse shows. I barrel-raced.
The pinnacle of my horse experience was working for the Miami Beach Police Department as a mounted patrol officer with my horse Raven.
Need I say more? Riding on the sands of Miami Beach with Raven conferred many memories that I carry with me always.
Riding as if nothing else mattered
Among other rides that I will always remember, I ran through meadows and over hills to the top of Lookout Mountain in Georgia with my first horse Bourbon. With the wind in my hair, I had not a care in the world. We walked, we trotted, we ran, and at times Bourbon pranced at the excitement of the wide open spaces. We felt our excitement together and rode as one.
More recently, I met some friends at a horse park in Michigan. Among them were were a couple of teenaged girls who were very capable riders. The three of us set out for the wooded trails. The girls laughed and giggled as we cantered and maneuvered around tall trees on the winding paths.
I smiled and celebrated the joy we all felt with our horses deep in the woods.
I’m 56 now. I have had no horses since 2010, when I said goodbye in 2010 to Lady, my spotted saddle horse, who was at times my only and very best friend and confidant. We shared her last seven years.
I am sure that many ANIMALS 24-7 readers likewise remember when your horse was there to console you. You embraced the horse’s neck and tears fell from your eyes, while your horse remained steady, strong and sympathetic.
I remember my horses, all of them, with love and appreciation.