Recently I went on my third horse ride – ever. Yes, only my third. I realize that I live on the ranch and that I have access to these horses 24/7, but I’ll be honest. By the time I come home from work, do my housework, cook dinner or go out for dinner, run errands, try to visit with my husband, and sit on the couch and rest, I don’t really feel like I have time, nor do I feel the strong desire to saddle up a horse and head out on the trail.
So I was having one of these days when my husband asked me to go for a ride. He’s been asking me to ride Pepper, one of the fattest horses on the ranch whom he claims has a smooth gallop. Not that I would ever gallop for an extended ride on this horse, however, I don’t know about anybody else, but when my husband is giving me puppy dog eyes mixed with excitement, I tend to cave. Every time.
And thanks to my 3rd horse ride, I’ve learned some very invaluable lessons.
- Just because you’ve watched 6 episodes of season 1 of Heartland (a show about a horse ranch) doesn’t mean that you actually have acquired all of the skills needed to direct, much less ride, a horse.
- This show is entertaining, and I’ve enjoyed watching what their little (fictional) ranch goes through and comparing it to ours. One of the main characters, Amy, is a young girl (15 going on 16) who is extremely talented with reading horses and knowing what they need. She acts almost like a “horse whisperer”, diagnosing what horses are feeling or experiencing and working to rehabilitate them for their owners. Naturally, after watching my 6 episodes, I was convinced I had the special touch that could calm Pepper’s defiant spirit and guide him through our little ride in the pasture with all the poise and grace, confidence and ease of Amy. Nope. Not even close. He huffed and fussed, popped his head and tried to nip at me when I attempted (feebly) to control the reigns, and proceeded to stop and eat every few feet rather than follow my husband on his horse.
- While riding a horse in the late evening on a trail near a forest, do not talk about mountain lions. Especially when your husband shows you a huge paw print in the mud bigger than your dog’s (who’s the only big dog on the ranch), and then proceeds to tell you his creepy story of how he saw an animal bigger than Beau at 6:30 AM in one of the pastures about 30 feet from him that was walking so quietly he didn’t know it was there until it suddenly took off 0-60 in 2 seconds. If all of these events happen, you will get very aware of the shadows in the woods right beside you, you will get that eerie “something is watching me” feeling, and you will realize that you are on the 2nd and 3rd fattest horses on the ranch. This of course means that if a mountain lion does indeed attack, these horses likely wouldn’t be able to get away and all four of you will die. So just don’t do any of this and you’ll be fine.
- Other than the two above situations, riding horses is very therapeutic and you’ll actually feel much more relaxed afterward. I had forgotten how amazing it is to ride a horse, and I’m making a resolution to ride more. It’s really nice to just ride and leave all the worries and stresses behind at the house for 30 minutes or so. Even unsaddling and brushing the horse is relaxing.
- I’ve added being a horse whisperer to my long To-Do list. This is a great list, with things like travel the world (all of it), swim in those fresh water caves that look so inviting in magazines, make all of those Pinterest recipes and DIY projects I’ve pinned, become a pro ice skater, write a novel, and live in a cottage that has a library like Belle’s, or buy the Biltmore. Yup that’s truly on the list!
All in all, I truly do love riding horses. Since writing the above, I went on my fourth ride, and this time with some riders. We did the whole trail, galloped, trotted, and just had fun. But watching my husband guide the trail, and watching the two college students take pictures and laugh, I can only thank the Lord for our many blessings of living on this little horse ranch. It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, but it’s always a blessing!