One Friday evening my fiancé Mike and I decided to go horseback riding the next morning. I was so excited because I’d always loved horses and dreamed of being a horsewoman. I had never been horseback riding but had always longed to go. I loved the idea of flying down the road on a horse, with the wind blowing through my hair. I knew I had some romantic notions about the whole thing, but I didn’t care. At last I would get my wish, and I was really looking forward to the next day.
When we arrived at the horse ranch the next morning, a young man of about eighteen came out to greet us.
“Can I help you folks?”
“We’d like to go riding,” Mike told him.
“Ever ride before?”
“I have, but she hasn’t.”
“We’ll find her a gentle horse. The first time I think it’s best if you follow me down the trail. Then if you’re comfortable after that you can go off on your own. Sound okay?”
“That sounds fine,” said Mike.
“Okay, I’ll be back with your mounts.”
He came back a few minutes later with two saddled horses. The first one was a large jet-black horse. Since I’m not a horse person, I have no idea what kind of horse it was, but I knew that I didn’t want to ride him. I was relieved to discover he was for Mike. I watched as Mike mounted him with ease, and I thought to myself: Now that doesn’t look too hard.
The second horse was smaller, chestnut-brown, and with a white streak running down his nose.
“This mount’s for you, Miss. His name’s Brownie. I’ll help you mount him.”
After that he showed me how to use the reins, my knees and heels, and which commands to make the horse stop and go forward.
“The most important thing is to not be afraid. He’ll know if you’re afraid and if that happens, he’ll do whatever he wants. Remember – you’re the boss, not him. Okay, let’s go.”
He began to ride out on the trail and the other horses simply followed his horse. It was a very pleasant ride. Finally we trotted back to the stable.
“So, would you folks like to go out on your own now?”
Mike looked at me questioningly. I nodded my head yes.
“But first we have to change your mount. He’s already been out a few times today and looks like he needs a rest,” he said to Mike.
Mike dismounted and soon the guide brought out another horse. This one was smaller than the first.
“Okay. Now remember to show him who’s boss,” he said, directing his comment toward me.
“Okay, I will.” I promised confidently, as I sat up straight and tall in the saddle.
We began down the trail that the guide had shown us, even trotting along the way. I was beginning to feel very much the horsewoman.
Suddenly my horse wouldn’t obey my commands. He began to wander away, no matter what I did.
“Mike, he won’t listen to me.”
“You have to show him who’s boss, honey.”
“I’m trying, but he won’t listen.”
“Do you want to trade horses?”
“Can I? Yours looks a lot more obedient than mine.”
Mike dismounted and helped me mount his horse. We took off on the trail once again.
Everything seemed to be going better. Then the new horse I was riding also began being “stubborn” and wasn’t obeying my commands, either.
“Mike, now this horse won’t listen.”
“Honey, I don’t know what else to do. Just do your best.”
Before I could get another word out of my mouth, that horse began to run, or should I say gallop! He was galloping so fast I thought for sure I would fall off. Soon we were flying with what seemed to me like break neck speed through the fields, over the meadow, and even down a hill, where I thought for sure I would be thrown off and possibly suffer a fatal accident. No matter how hard I pulled on the reins or how many times I screamed, “Whoa!” it didn’t matter one iota to that horse. I wondered where in the world this horse was taking me. All I knew for certain was that I had never been so terrified in my entire life. I could hear Mike galloping behind me, calling out my name, but his horse couldn’t catch up to mine. I must have been riding the fastest horse in the stable.
And that’s exactly where we ended up – the stable. I figured it must have been the horse’s lunchtime and he must have been starving because he had certainly been in a hurry to get back there.
Evidently I was screaming, even though I didn’t realize it, because the guide came running out from the stable.
As soon as that horse saw the guide he stopped dead in his tracks. As a matter of fact, he stopped so suddenly that I almost did fly off, but somehow I managed to keep hold of the saddle horn, which I had been clinging to for dear life.
“What happened, Miss?”
By this time Mike had reached us.
“Well . . . he just wouldn’t . . . “
“I know – he didn’t know who was boss, right? He thought he was the boss. So he figured he could come back to the stable and be lazy instead, right?”
He grinned at Mike and winked. Mike nodded his head, trying hard to hide his laughter.
I was so embarrassed. I knew I would never live this down. I felt like a failure and I was disappointed because I realized that I would never be a horsewoman.
But at least I lived to tell this story. Perhaps I made you smile or even laugh, and if that’s the case – then, maybe I’m not such a failure after all!