I remember the day that I first rode a horse. I was 10 years old and my family had just moved to a neighborhood that was more upscale than we were accustomed to. There were people who drove beat up old Chevys and others that drove Rolls Royces. It was a crazy mix of the social classes, but it seemed to work. When you would drive through the entrance, there was a sudden ease of peace, like the rest of the world was forbidden to enter. It was a sanctuary for many, a playground for some and step up out of the lower class label for others. My Mother loved that neighborhood like it was one of her dreams come true, I don’t remember her being happier and more proud of what they had accomplished. I knew it was out of our price range when we moved there, but my parents wanted more for their family, so they made it work.
They had two riding stables there, one was the million dollar training facility, the other a local barn torn down by time. I first went to the big facility where I first rode a horse, correction…pony. His name was “Gentleman Jack” and I thought that was the perfect name to call a pony that you were entrusting your whole 10-year-old life with. My best friend Natalie was there, she was going to have a trail lesson with me. Her horse was much bigger, I remember being jealous of that. I always seemed to feel like the one left out, the one who got the raw deal, the girl who sat on the sideline watching the rest of the world go by…on bigger horses.
So, I’m in the saddle on my “gentleman” pony and we all start to walk away from the facility. We don’t even get 50 feet and we are ready to cross a small puddle. My gentleman pony, suddenly became an idiot! He sees the water, his eyes got so big I could see them from where I was sitting and he ran away with me on him. I didn’t know his little legs could go so fast, but they did and remember this was my first time on a horse…ummm, pony from hell! I remember as I am being thrown through the air, that I’m glad I had a short way to fall, really glad to not have the bigger horse. I’m also ready to go talk to the person who named this monster and suggest something a little more realistic like “Runaway Jack”, “Jack the Jerk” or “Idiot Jack,” my personal favorite.
The instructor had told me to” hold on, right before I was thrown to the ground. I yelled “onto what?” I forgot to mention I was riding english, no big cowboy knob to grab, so yes, I hit the ground. My instructor tried to encourage me to “get back up in the saddle”, some foolish thing that you heard in movies or you overheard your parents telling each other after losing a job or having a rough day. I told her she was crazy. After a few minutes of telling me how disappointing it would be to not ride after my parents had spent so much money on the lesson, I got back on.
I rode horses for what seemed like the time it takes to blink, but I think it was close to 10 years. I rode other people’s horses, I rode horses for people and I rode my own horse. I’m so grateful that my trainer convinced me to get back on that horse. That day I was changed forever. I learned not to give up when faced with trials, I lost my fear of doing things. Although sometimes I find my fear again, I find that courage to move forward again, courage I don’t really think that I ever had before that day.
What moment in your life were you faced with fear and you chose courage instead?