It’s not about the garden. 24 degrees Monday; 26 yesterday; 28 today. A warming trend? I dunno. Still kinda rough on a marigold and crookneck squash plant. I’m not saying I’m giving up, but…
It’s about horses. And confidence. Losing it, and gaining it back.
I’ll start with how I lost it.
I think there is this cycle in horsemanship. Maybe with other things as well, you can decide for yourself. You start out naive. Life is sunshine and bunnies. What you don’t know won’t hurt you. Ignorance is bliss. That sort of thing. You just see the beauty of the horse and the fun of the ride and figure every time you’re gonna get where you wanna go and back home safe and sound. But then something happens, and it will, that slip and fall or big buck or slap in the face, and you learn that life and horses aren’t really that shallow and simple. Sure, there are ups, but there are also plenty of downs. You don’t realize how bad you can get hurt, and that you will get hurt, and that horses die, and riders can fall off and break bones, and horses have personalities of their own and might need a rider to guide them, not just one to babysit on their back. It gets challenging, complicated. Some days you’ll have to saddle in the rain. That sucks.
So there you are as a rider and horseman. Questioning. The pretty picture has been shattered. Maybe you are, dare I even say this, scared. And if you’ve never been there, then you haven’t ridden enough, or you’re just some blind macho cowboy and good for you, but that’s not me. That’s my husband. Good for him. But I’m done having him ride the scary horses. I need to cowgirl up and sit in the saddle myself. And finally, I do. My way. And it’s working. And maybe at the end of the day, I’ll even ride better than him. But it’s taken me a lot to get here.
What happened? I think the pretty picture and my innocence was shattered with one bucking horse. Ready to rock on a pack trip, dudes all sitting pretty on the dandy horses and I’m trying out the loaner (now I know why he was on loan). He bucked good. I can ride a little crow hop no problem, but I have zero interest in riding a bucking bronc who knows how to tuck down his head and send his heels far above his butt. No thanks. I’ll leave that for the young men who still need to prove their manliness.
And here’s what I did wrong. I dusted off and got back on. Back on a horse that had a rep for bucking. And without doing anything different. I’ve heard the definition for insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, what does this tell you about me? Right.
So the second pitch I see myself as in a dream (well, maybe a nightmare) up in the sky and the words that are going through my head as I’m falling slow motion really are not fit for print. I land hard and flat. Whoomp. There goes the air from my lungs. There’s blood but nothing broke. And yes, I cowgirl up. We have a trip to take, and dudes to take care of. Take the damn horse away and get me another; we gotta go ride. Pain? What pain? Don’t cry, just suck up and ride.
My husband takes the horse away, rides him when they’re away from the scene of the crime, I might add, which really pissed me off. Was this any time to train the darned horse, or maybe check to see if your wife’s bleeding has stopped?
He got me a different horse, I swallowed my pride, the blood just dried up, and I didn’t wash up and check my wounds until we rode into camp that night. As the dishes were out drying, the horses on the high line, and the guests still gathered around the last embers of the campfire, my husband lay next to me under our tarp and was still pretty clueless what he did to deserve the silent treatment. Go figure. Guys.
So I ended up with some scars from that day to join with a few others. But the deepest scar was internal; vulnerability. I woke up. And the day was not dawning bright and clear, I might add, but heavy and dark and foreboding. My confidence was shattered. I couldn’t ride that horse. If I couldn’t ride that one, how many others could toss me off? Come on. I know, I’ve heard and said a hundred times that part of riding is learning to fall. I can fall. But I can’t ride a big buck and honestly, I don’t want to. I want a good horse and a good ride. I’m a 45 year old woman. Add that to the fact that I never was a 25 year old boy with a little chip on my shoulder and a big fat ego to bolster.
That was a few years ago. A few years during which time I rode 500 or 600 miles a year and sat precariously in the saddle every single mile. I saw myself flying off hundreds of time, though no one else did, and it never happened except in my over active imagination and under active ego. I won’t tell my guests this, as my “job” was to keep them safe and instill confidence in them. A job I think I did pretty well. So, does that mean I faked it well?
And what about today? Ah ha. Here’s the good news. I’m getting it back.
But shoot, look at the time. I gotta get back to work, and so do you. So enough for today. I’ll finish this story another time.