Diatribe: Drunk Horseback Riding.
I really enjoy an afternoon in the saddle. Horseback riding is one of the most relaxing and therapeutic things that I do. A slow ride down a quiet trail through meadows and woods on a sunny Spring day is intoxicating. We don’t go fast (my mantra is “If there’s not any prize money or a free buffet at the end, what’s the hurry?”) so my horse and I are perfectly content walking along at a snail’s pace … often to the chagrin of others on the trail.
One of my most memorable rides ended up being longer than anticipated. It was late into the evening when we finally returned to camp on a beautiful summer night. The wind was still as we wound our way back through the dark woods. It was so dark that it was difficult to see the trail in front of us. I remember giving up the reins and trusting my horse to find our way.
As much as I like to ride alone, we’ve enjoyed trail rides with large groups that are a tremendous amount of fun. Often, some of the cowboys in the group get a little rowdy when cocktails are involved but their horses are trained so well that it seems to make no difference. I, personally, do not drink and ride. I need to have my wits about me.
Charles Cowart of Bunnell, Florida follows different rules. Last September he was arrested after leading police on a half-hour chase through the city, about sixty miles south of Jacksonville, while intoxicated and riding a horse. He told police that he was on his way to his grandmother’s house, refused their request to dismount from the horse and galloped away. Eventually, the horse became exhausted and Cowart ran away on foot. He was arrested a short time later and pleaded not guilty.
Earlier this week, however, he changed his plea to no contest to obstructing an officer without violence and interfering with railroad tracks. He had been held in the Flagler County Jail until changing his plea when his sentence was reduced to “time served”. He is now free but will remain on probation for three years.
Personally, I find it somewhat disrespectful to my horse to even consider riding under the influence. For me, sitting in the saddle is a privilege and riding on trails is a team effort. Both my horse and I need to be in good condition and have our wits about us to avoid injury. That being said, I’m reasonably certain that Mr. Cowart’s horse would have carried him safely to Grandma’s House.
It seems to me that Cowart must have been pretty darned drunk and must have led the authorities on quite a chase. I certainly won’t ride if I’ve been drinking. But I’ve been known to catch up once my feet hit the ground.
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