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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPeck's Sunshine - The House Girl Race
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Peck's Sunshine - The House Girl Race Post by :loudenson Category :Long Stories Author :George W. Peck Date :May 2012 Read :1382

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Peck's Sunshine - The House Girl Race

The Minneapolis fair has been for some months advertising a race of twenty miles between a California and a Minnesota girl, on horseback, and on Wednesday it occurred. The girls were splendid horsewomen, but they had to change horses each mile, and the horses were strangers to the girls, and excited, and the crowd of 30,000 was excited, and the girls were kicked, trampled on and jammed into saddles by main strength, and away the horses would go, the crowd howling, the horses flying and the poor girls sighing and holding on with their teeth and toe nails, expecting every moment to be thrown off and galloped over by the horses and the crowd.

The pandemonium was kept up until the seventh round, when the saddle of Miss Jewett, the Minnesota girl, slipped, and she was thrown to the ground on the back stretch, and the crowd clamored for the master of ceremonies to send her another horse, while the California girl whooped it up around the track. They had to send a stretcher for the girl, and she was brought to the judge's stand as near a cold corpse as could be, her pale face showing through the dirt, and her limber form telling its own story.

Then people that had been enjoying the "fun" looked at each other as much as to say, "We are the biggest fools outside of congress, to enjoy coldblooded murder, and call it fun." The girl will live, though some of her bones are warped. This whole subject of lady horseback riding is wrong. The same foolish side saddles are used that were used before the flood, with no improvement since Eve used to ride to town after the doctor when Adam had the rheumatiz.

Women can ride as well as men, if they are given a show, but to place them on a horse with both legs on one side of the animal, so they have to allow for the same weight of other portions of the body on the other side to balance them, is awkward and dangerous, and it is a wonder that more do not fall off and squash themselves, A well built woman is as able to ride as a man. Her legs are strong enough to keep her on a horse--we say legs understandingly, because that is the right name for them--if she can have one on each side, but to shut one leg up like a jack-knife and hang it up on a pommel, and get a check for it, and forget that she has got a leg, and to let the other one hang down listlessly beside the horse, the heel of the foot pounding him in the sixth rib, is all nonsense, and those two legs, that ought to be the main support of the rider, are of no more use than two base ball clubs would be hung to the saddle. For all the good legs do on a side saddle they might as well be taken off and left at home.

Of course they are handy to have along if a lady wants to dismount, out in the woods, and pick flowers, or climb a tree after a squirrel, but the minute she gets in the saddle her legs are not worth the powder to blow them up. And talk about exercise and developing muscle, walking a mile is better than riding all summer.

In walking, the legs and all the muscles of the body are brought into action, and the blood courses through the veins, and a girl looks like a thoroughbred, but in horseback riding the legs lay dormant, get to sleep and have to be waked up when the owner dismounts, and all the exercise is got by portions of the human frame that never has seemed to us as though there was absolute need of greater development.

It is true that horseback riding makes the cheeks-red. Well, blood that wouldn't rush to the head after being churned that way wouldn't be worth having. It has to go somewhere. It can't go to the legs, because they are paralyzed, being curled up like a tailor, mending trousers. Horseback exercise for ladies, on a side saddle, is a delusion and a snare, and does not amount to a row of pins, and it never will be worth a cent until women can ride like men. Then the lower limbs--now it is _limbs_--will be developed and health will be the result, and there will be no danger of a saddle turning and a helpless woman being dragged to her death.

There is nothing indelicate about riding on both sides of a horse, if they once get used to it. But they have got to get over this superstition that to ride on horseback a woman must put her limbs up in curl papers.

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