When I was a little girl, I wanted my very own horse. Since this seemed very unlikely, I eventually settled on riding someone else’s horse. So, when I was 7 years old, this dream came true. However, unlike wonderful dreams you want to always remember, this is one I hoped to quickly forget.
Everything was going fine until the horse I was riding escaped from the corral (my memory is that it jumped the fence), and we went galloping off into the meadow with me, holding on for dear life. It was such a scary experience that I vowed never to ride a horse again.
Fortunately, time softened this bad memory, and I did get on a horse again as an adult—a few times. Unfortunately, the last time I rode, I was on a trail ride and the horse I was riding got spooked when it came across a log in its path. He jumped and it almost threw me from the saddle. With my childhood memory vividly flashing before my eyes, I honestly thought I was going to die. This experience, now as an adult, filled me with terror all over again. After that, I vowed to never, EVER, ride a horse again.
Not surprisingly, my two oldest girls love horses. They come by this love of horses naturally. Their grandfather, “Opa”, loved horses and raced them as a hobby. In fact, he helped establish the Appaloosa Horse Club Hall of Fame. At one point, he owned over 100 horses. When he passed away ten years ago, two of his horses were given to my daughters. While we miss Opa, his influence can be felt in the horses he left behind, Rooster and Chance.
When I made my List of 50 Things, I included things I had never done, never liked, and never experienced. Number 19 on my list was “Learn how to ride a horse.” In all the years my girls had taken riding lessons, I had never had the desire to learn myself. However, when I was thinking of the things I wanted to do before I turned 50, learning how to ride a horse came quickly to my mind. I wanted to be BRAVE and try riding again to see if I could have a better experience. Lucky for me, my daughter Catherine teaches riding lessons here in Provo, and she offered to teach me. I have to admit, I was a little scared.
“And into the barn I go to lose my mind and find my soul.”
Last Saturday, I had my very first lesson with her. Can I just say, I had no idea what a great teacher she was? I knew she was great with children, but she is also great with adults! Catherine patiently instructed me on how to groom, saddle, and mount a horse. She taught me why horses make the sounds they do, why they fall into pecking orders, and why they love to be ridden. I learned how to sit on my jeans’ pockets and ride with my thumbs up and my heels down.
If you have never ridden a horse, it can be an intimidating experience. It may feel a little Skiwampus at first, but after a while, it feels magical. You’re mastering this big beast twice your size and gaining confidence as you maneuver around the arena and between cones. Throughout the lesson, Catherine patiently corrected me when I held the reins too tightly and when I wasn’t looking in the direction of my turns.
Having your child teach you how to do something as a grown adult is a very moving experience. I felt such an enormous love for my daughter and pride swelled within me as I shared this experience with her. Here was this child of mine all grown up and teaching me so patiently. I wanted to capture the moment and remember it forever.
After my lesson, I walked into the pasture with six big horses all around me. I loved hearing them neigh, whinny, and trot around. I smelled the newly cut grass and felt the warmth of the sun on my back and just stood there as I took everything in. In this moment, I realized I had needed this. I had needed to go into the barn “to lose my mind and find my soul” or lose my fear and find my soul. And suddenly, in a magical moment, I realized what I had been missing all of these years.