Dwayne has horses. Two horses, actually, both of whom he offers out to anyone who perks up at the word “horses” (me me me!). In fact, every time we see Dwayne he reminds me where to find his hidden house key, where the saddles are kept, and of the gate lock code for a neighboring pasture with a 200 acre view and ponds for as much trail riding as a girl could ever desire. You’d think I’d jump all over this chance and ditch my day job in order to trot around the coutryside at all times since, seriously, he’d let me. But there’s just this one pesky little thing about my past that keeps me from literally riding off into the sunset. When I was young I used to ride horses. Alot. I started in the Western saddle and tried out barrel racing but realized fast the glory of the English seat and did some jumping and things of that nature. Somewhere during that time I had a nasty fall from a horse, and my head went into a metal tube fence. Ow. After that experience, and a few others that sent me flying over fences, I became terrified of riding, and of horses. In fact, I used to become physically ill before getting back up in a saddle – true story. Over the years I forced myself to get over it because, regardless of the fear of riding, the love for horses never wanes. I mean really, you can take the girl off the horse but you can’t take the…well you get what I’m saying.
My worst riding accident occurred in a very controlled environment and since it did, I’ve been terrified of riding on a trail or in an open field where chances are better that the horse may gallop out of control or scratch you off onto a nearby tree. The key, in these situations, is to be stronger than the horse, never demonstrate fear, and basically show the horse what’s what. If you’re literally shaking in your boots, this is a hard attitude to fake. So here I am, years past the events that terrorized me when I was a girl, still madly in love horses, and still spooked at the notion of riding them. So yesterday, when Jer and I saddled up Robin and Chocolate at Dwayne’s place and took them down the road to wander around our property, it was a bit of a breakthrough. For the first time in years I let the horse run – up and down and back and again – on our long gravel drive. We ran so fast my hat flew off into the brush, and I remembered exactly why I loved that crazy feeling in the first place. Riding a horse, really riding a horse, is a form of controlled chaos. You’ve got to keep your seat, gather your reins, point those heels down, manage the speed, steer the animal, and above all else – stay in the saddle. If you can manage all that, then what you’ve got left is the most incredible feeling of power and exhiliration. It’s one of those speechless feelings, really. So there’s nothing more to say about it.
But I do know that wandering the property on horseback and viewing the land from up high, is how it’s supposed to be done. Horses and humans go way back, after all. What we gained in efficiency with motorized transport, we sacrificed in the details of the world that you can only see when walking slow and hearing the clip clop of horses hooves. It’s a primal relationship, this thing between us. But as natural as it feels to be up in the saddle, I’ll never completely shake a sense of awe-inspiring respect and some fear. They are powerful beasts, after all.