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I have had dogs riding with me for 40+ years and would really miss them. 
I have always had cattle dogs and that is there job.  Now I have a 10 lb
Jack Russel Terrier that lives to ride with me.  Took time and patience to
train her to stay with me when crossing the highway and to always watch
for me while we are riding (used to be the other way around), but she has
learned and does very well.  I live in a rural area where once I cross the
highway I don't have to worry about vehicles or other dogs.  I carry water
for her if hot or there are no snow or puddles.  If she should get tired
and the only time that happens is when her 6 inch legs are breaking deep
snow, she will come to me and ask to get on the horse.  My horses, even
cots are used to this and don't mind.  When I do training rides of more
than 6 miles I make her stay home unless there is plenty of water and I am
not trotting the entire ride.  

I certainly would not let my JRT go in a public park where there might be
strange dogs or traffic or other horses for that matter and agree that I
don't want any part of a dog and pony circus.  Every afternoon at 2:30 she
jumps up on the back of a chair overlooking the drive way and starts
watching for me and if I put on riding clouthes you have never seen a
happier dog.  Some of you may know that JRT are usually pretty "hyper" but
mine gets enough exercise that she is very quiet and calm.  Oh yea, she is
also a terrific cow dog.  We use her every time we move our cows and it is
quite funny to watch.  Our border collie will be doing his thing as he
should and sometimes the cows don't want to go and they charge and fight
him.  Along comes the JRT, she moves in an arc behind them picking them
all up and they move out immediately, much to the chagrin of the collie.

To the rider in FL hesitating to go on her first ride, if your health is
good enough just do it and don't be afraid to ask for assistance.  I have
found most riders willing to help out a newbie and many riders sleep in
tents, back of pick ups or tack rooms of horse trailers.  I myself have
about 1200 miles now and have only had a crew a couple of times,  I always
travel alone (except the JRT) and crew for myself.  My husband thinks it
great that I like this sport but refuses to be my flunky as he puts it. 
Actually we have a farm and cattle to take care of so he very seldom could
go anyway.  Look at it this way, when you do things for yourself, there is
no one else to blame.  Really, it is not bad at all.  I have a system that
works for me now and don't mind at all.  Good luck.

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