From the back of the horse


There is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.
~John Lubbock

Thoughts run frantically through my mind, carried by a whirlwind of emotion.  Irritation and anger, sadness and worry, hope and fear.  I open a book and try to read, scroll through facebook, turn on Netflix – anything to keep my mind off these emotions. I have a decision to make and I’m not sure how to make it. I finally settle back to watch my thoughts. I fall asleep this way, watching.

I wake with a few welcome distractions to occupy my mind, primarily a riding lesson with a man named Mitchell.  The horse I’ve been riding is named Chief, a Quarter Horse recently off the show circuit. Chief is as tall as a Clydesdale and seems impossible to ride. His trot is bouncy, his canter huge and I’m a terrible rider. I came home from my first lesson with hobbled legs and a bruise on my belly the size of my hand from slamming into the saddle horn. Today, we work on the canter which is by far my favorite gait but from that height on that horse, also the most terrifying. After a few awful trips around the ring, I consider giving up and asking for a smaller horse. But a stubborn part of me can’t accept the possibility that this horse is too difficult for me to ride. As I prepare to go around again, I consider my options: play it safe or put the work in. Fear is multiplying my basic problem (lack of skill) and keeping me too tense. The key is to work with the horse, relax and trust the process.  And so I place a death grip on the saddle horn (because I’m not stupid,) relax my lower half as much as I am able and send Chief flying around the arena.

I come home and make my decision: relax and trust the process. Because, in the end, there are only two choices.  Play it safe or fly.



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