USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘horseback ride’
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Horse Riding Tradition: “Never let a fall be the end of your ride”

Main Performance: “So at the ranch I ride at, there is this unspoken rule that everybody has to follow, it’s a tradition of sorts as everyone practices this at the barn. But basically, the custom is that if you fall off your horse, whether it be during an event, or while practicing, or even just riding out in the country, you have to get back on your horse afterwards. It is something that I have always been taught while growing up, and it was something that I saw every other rider doing at the barn. It was just expected that you never let a fall be the end of your ride.”

 

Background: GR grew up with a long history of horse riding, and that is one of her most favorite things to do when she has the free time and is able to make it to the barn. GR mentions that a big part of the tradition also is trying to earn the respect of the other riders at the barn who generally are either watching or riding horses themselves. Because this is a community built around the nature of never giving up as GR told me, making sure to get back up on the horse is huge to earning that respect form the more veteran riders. Additionally GR mentions that at the barn she was raised at, it was never okay to simply do things half way. It was expected that when you do something at the barn, you do it at 100% no matter whether or not you succeed, it is far more important that your effort is there. And GR also says that on the barn, while it was okay to not succeed every time, it was always preached that if you are going to practice something, you need to make sure you practice it right. Falling off the horse is the last thing the horse remembers, and GR said that its so important that you don’t end a session of a failure for the horse. GR said that undoubtedly this mindset of resilience and challenging yourself is a staple of her horse riding community.

 

Context of the Performance: GR told me this custom, while we were talking about the things we would do in our free time, and what types of hobbies we like to do. Since GR is from an area where horse riding is far more popular than in California, GR was able to inform me about some of the expectancies that come with riding horses.

 

Analysis: This custom is such an interesting tradition as I this idea of “you gotta get back on the horse” has definitely circulated in other parts of the country as a metaphor for never giving up. It is fascinating to see this saying and custom being used in a place where it is quite literal, and that getting back on the horse is so important not only for gaining respect and being a good rider, but also it is to help the horse not end the ride on a failure. In America, there is a huge cultural emphasis on never giving up and putting in 100% effort in the things that you do. This custom in the horse riding community is a perfect microcosm, and operates as a literal iteration of the belief that you must always keep trying even when you fail. Failure is a part of life, and seeing the fact that failure is accepted in this community as long as you get back up and learn from it, greatly represents the major American value of never giving up.

general

The Charro Ride – Reconnection to Western Roots

Formed in 1961, The Scottsdale Charros are an all-volunteer, nonprofit group of business and civic leaders in Scottsdale, Arizona that support youth sports, education and charitable causes. From the very beginning, the Charros—by their very name—meaning gentlemen riders, embodies the Scottsdale’s 1947 slogan, “The West’s Most Western Town.”. My father is a member of this group and I have grown up around their traditions and celebration of western culture. Most notably, I remember their annual ride, so I asked my father to explain further what it is, and what it’s purpose is.

“We have been doing it {the ride} for fifity five years. We put together the Charro ride where we have 150 civic minded leaders and take them on a three day horseback ride somewhere unique in the state of Arizona, whether it be a ranch, a forest or a desert. We have been all over the state, a different place every year. It is way for people to get to know our state and see places they wouldn’t normally see. A way for us to appreciate our home and its beauty and to engage community leaders with our state and for them to get to know its beauty. It is a weeklong horseback ride because it’s a way to connect with our western heritage and to live life like a cowboy. Day one the guests arrive by bus, and we meet them, then we give them a horse and ride from there to camp, which is a permanent site with tents and a kitchen, and we camp out under the stars and wake up the next day and go on an all-day trail ride. It’s a very traditional ride. There are events for the rookie riders, like each year they have to do something to entertain us like they do funny skits and things to entertain us, someone is in charge of organizing that, and on the last day we all have a gymkana which is a horseback skills challenge, like a mini rodeo, so you’ll race around the track,, run around the barrels, sort cattle and do different cowboys skills challenges. This happens on the last day, then the wives show up and have a big party in camp.”

 

Analysis:

This is a festival of sorts celebrating and performing Western heritage and traditions. It is a group of men from the Scottsdale and Phoenix area who are civic leaders or participants who meet to engage with their shared Western traditions. It is put on by the Scottsdale Charros, a non-profit group, and participated in by Charro members and non-members alike, however they are all men. It is meant to celebrate the cowboy heritage and traditions of Arizona by participating in a long horse ride, rodeo competitions and sleeping out under the stars like herders of yore. It is the same traditions every year, however in a different place, as part of the festival is to celebrate the beauty and diversity of Arizona landscapes from deserts to forests. It is a community experience to reconnect with cowboy culture for people who shape the community and therefore should be in connection with their community’s traditions and culture. It takes place in the fall, just before winter when the heat has died down and for a week. It is performing the identity of being a member of the Scottsdale/Phoenix community and the identity of living in the southwest.

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