Sometimes I fancy myself as some tough-as-nails rebel. Sometimes I imagine I am quite the bad-ass. Always, always reality proves me wrong.
Way back in time before I was married or had children, or half the half-sense I do now, I had a brilliant idea to go horseback riding. I was in my 20s and had likely been reminiscing about the Black Stallion movie or I might have just been playing with my niece's 'My Little Pony' collection. Anyways, I persuaded my sister and her eight-year-old daughter to go to some ranch not far from town for a guided horseback riding tour.
My sister had ridden horses as a teenager and my niece was obsessed with horses, what with 147 Little Ponies and their grooming accessories scattered all over the place. I, however, had never been on a horse, touched a horse or even been close to a horse. I can't say I even liked horses. But just the thought of myself perched on a gloriously galloping thoroughbred in some medieval adventure... ah, how could I resist?
Once we got to the ranch, it did not take long for reality to strike. Here are some things I noticed:
1. Horses are BIG
How does one manage to climb atop this thing without a handy kitchen step ladder? It was clumsy, it was awkward, but with help from the Cowgirl Guide, I finally managed to scrabble my way up and over the saddle.
2. Horses are REALLY, REALLY BIG
Wow. I felt like I could touch the sky seated upon this is a huge, 700-lb animal! With a will and way of its own. What kind of crazy person rides a horse? I repeatedly asked myself as we began this hour-long hell ride.
3. Cowgirls are bad-asses
I thought girls who liked horses were sweet, pony-tailed giggling dreamers, like my 8-year-old niece or Elly May Clampett or someone like that. Not this one. Good golly gosh, no sirree! In a low, measured tone, she spoke to us and at us. She spoke to everyone and to no one. We all listened in obedient silence. I had no idea what she said, and was too scared to throw out a 'say what?' anywhere near her direction.
4. Horses are bad-asses
I do not know what breed of horse I rode that day, and didn't have the nerve to ask. She was a rich, beautiful brown with a black tail. Nothing like those Little Pony posers with their pink manes and heart-stamped hineys. Her name was Tess and she scared the living sit out of me.
Shortly after we began, Tess, likely sensing my sheer terror, decided to display some decidedly naughty behaviour. As our group of 15 or so rode together single file, Tess would rudely nose into the hind-quarters of the preceding animal, who retaliated with a quick kick, causing Tess to rear up, forcing screams and bad words to escape from the lips of her rider. Instead of enjoying the warm caress of sunlight on the vibrant pinks, greens and yellows of spring to the tranquil soundtrack of Clip-Clop, Clip-Clop, this journey reeked of Sniff-Kick-Rear-Scream... Sniff-Kick-Rear-Scream.
5. Cowgirls are REALLY, REALLY BIG bad-asses
By the time we got to a place the Cowgirl Guide called 'Suicide Hill' I was ready to bail. High, high up on a narrow trail she made us all stop. "Turn your head to the right," she said to all of us and none of us. "Now is not the time fall 200 feet down the side of the cliff."
Just then Tess did the Sniff, the horse in front did the Kick, Tess did the Rear and I did the Scream. Right on the edge of Suicide Hill. "I wanna get off! She keeps rearing up on me!" I whined like the baby I was and not the bad-ass I wanted to be.
Once we passed across Suicide Hill, the Cowgirl Guide stopped us all again and spoke directly to me. "You can't handle the Tess?"
"No, I can't handle the Tess," I conceded, clumsily rolling off the beast. Oh, my legs, my thighs, my inner thighs, my inner, inner thighs! Will I be able to have children after this?
"Do you want to walk back to the ranch?" she questioned.
"Well, you will be if you don't grab those reins before she runs off."
My humiliation is almost complete.
The Cowgirl Guide trades horses with me and easily leads an obedient Tess for the next half hour back to the ranch. Not a sniff, not a kick, not a rear, not a scream.
My humiliation is complete.