Birthdays are dear to my heart. They are wonderful occasions to get the scoop on people’s dreams and desires, and they occasionally provide opportunities to surprise said people by fulfilling a wish. So it was with this horseback ride we took yesterday. Doubly lucky that I was able to gift it to two special people. Triple luck that I got to go along.

Last time I sat on anything that resembled a horse was about 26 years ago. It didn’t end well, but the horse was not involved in that incident. My parents had always said riding lessons were too expensive, and so, like many little girls, I could only dream of flying across the fields on a sweaty beast, both of our manes fluttering behind us like banners in the wind. When I met Phoenix yesterday, I briefly second-guessed the wisdom of my gift-giving: he stood a good head or two higher than myself, and since he was neither a dog nor a guinea pig nor a cat, I could not decipher his intentions. He was a Freiburger, a mighty Swiss-bred work horse whose favorite pastime was eating and who, I was assured, would safely carry the most timid of beginning riders, in this case, me. We made friends when we got to prep our horses for saddling, and I quit feeling intimidated. All four of us spent an enjoyable afternoon being led through field and forest, even trying a trot, before getting caught in a horrendous downpour half an hour away from the ranch. We laughed ourselves silly as we stood there, dripping wet, and this morning compared the grievous soreness of our butts, unused to spending any time in the saddle. All in all, we had a great day.

And yet, I woke up this morning with an inclination that something was gnawing on me. It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally figured it out. It’s pissing me off that I ended up being the only one who stayed on the lead the entire time – our hosts walked next to the horses, helping out by leading them and keeping us sorted out properly. Admittedly, I was the one person with the least experience, but I had the mellowest horse and certainly didn’t act any more ignorant handling it than anyone else. So being led around for an hour and a half kind of felt no different than it did when horse and I were smaller all those years ago, and I was being dragged around by my mom. Is this me being overly ambitious? I don’t know. It is me feeling slightly humiliated, I know that. It irks me because if I was doing something wrong, I would’ve expected to be corrected, but like this, it just comes across as if they either just couldn’t be bothered or didn’t figure it would make a difference. Either way: ouch.

So I’m miffed. I’ll get over it, sure. I’m still glad we went, and I still had a pretty good time. And maybe I’ll even share a picture with you when I get them downloaded.


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