By “got” I mean “rode.” And by “pony” I mean full-grown, tall, powerful, handsome (not cute) HORSE.
Outside of being led placidly around a corral, I had never ridden a horse before, but I’ve always liked them — who doesn’t? Mix together a couple of recent horse-related conversations between Robin Hood and I, and: Voila! He surprised me with a horseback ride for my birthday!
We got to the stables at the appointed time. I tried not to look TOO awkward and clueless (I swear at least one horse openly snickered at me) and took some comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the only one in our riding group with zero experience. Tenderfoot solidarity!
The guides assigned us our horses. I got Doc, and Robin Hood got a lively one called Harley, who had, er, just kicked one of the guides. Wheee! But my husband, God love him, is good at basically everything he tries, and he handled that horse like Roy friggin’ Rogers.
I, on the other hand…succeeded at not falling off!
After scrambling into Doc’s saddle (which, hello, it’s been seven months since my legs were in THAT position), I had two sudden realizations:
1) Horses are really tall.
2) They do not come with seat belts.
*Deep breaths* *Deep breaths*
I got more or less comfortable on my equine companion. He seemed pretty indifferent to me, which I took as an encouraging sign.
Then our ride started, and I had another realization: I was, in fact, riding this horse. Meaning I had to “steer” and try to convince Doc that I knew what I was doing.
As we rode along, I got more comfortable. I loosened up, and found to my delight that I COULD influence Doc’s behavior! Before you roll your eyes too much, let me assure you that there were several sassier horses in the group. I was thankful for my assignment.
Riding under cottonwoods, navigating trails, and even splashing through a little water, I had yet another realization. Learning to ride a horse is a lot like learning to be a mom. You have to be strong but steady, relaxed yet in control. It requires the use of muscles you never knew you had. It can be painful (I’m still sore from that saddle!) but thrilling, too.
Well shoot. I guess it’s like any new challenge in life. All it takes is the willingness to scramble up into that saddle and give yourself a chance.
Robin Hood, thank you for the great birthday gift. And Doc, thank you for being a good teacher.