Yep. I don’t have a horse. But wait! There are good reasons why I don’t other than the obvious (I have no room and no way to take care of them).
When I was a small child, my dad had a horse named Bob. Bob was a plow horse and a pet and by the time I was old enough to sit in front of Dad, he was very old. I loved Bob! Bob was part of the family. Bob was my dad’s best friend and designated driver before designated drivers were invented.
My dad, who is now in his eighties, used to ride his father’s plow horse through the woods to an old honkytonk (that had no electricity) where he would get rip-roaring drunk. How old was he? About 15 or so. No ID’s back then. So when it was time to come home, he somehow managed to mount up on Bob, who would plod back through the woods in the middle of the night and deposit Dad on his front porch where his mother would find him the next morning and wake him up with the broom!
Now, Bob, of course, was my inspiration. I once told the postman that my dad’s name was Bob when he postman knew quite well my dad’s name was Ken. This did not set well with the postman, who raised both eyebrows in horror at my poor, embarrassed mother.
But all that aside, I never realized the dream of owning a horse of my own though I never lost the desire to learn to ride. One of my lifelong dreams has been to ride a horse galloping at breakneck speed. I can imagine bending over the horse’s neck, hanging on, feeling the ultimate thrill of man and beast and nature and all that stuff.
Well, I tried to take lessons a few years ago. I told the instructor to pick a gentle horse for me because, for whatever reasons, I seem to irritate horses and other large four-legged creatures. I’ve been chased, trampled and bitten enough to know I must avoid strange horses, cows, buffaloes, bison, bears, lions, tigers, etc. at all costs.
So the instructor picks an 18 year-old, slightly worn out mare which should have been living our her retirement in a green pasture full of daisies and butterflies. Nice.
The first indication that something was not right was when she took a chunk out of my hip as I was lovingly grooming her. The second came when she tried to step on me as I attempted to put the saddle on her.
The second lesson was a bit more profound. Got her groomed without incident. Got her saddled up and actually mounted up. It felt wonderful. A great success until a small tree loomed in my face and she decided I should be in the tree and not on her back. The instructor was appalled at all this ‘misbehavior’ and assured me it would not happen again.
I was skeptical, but returned for the third lesson, determined to learn to ride and control a great beast. I wanted to experience the pleasure of riding and I wanted to do it right. So, everything goes well. I stay relatively unmolested and out of the tree. Then the instructor says “Take her down to the fence and back.” I looked away across the pasture. The fence seemed miles away, but there were no trees or other obstacles. It might work, I thought.
About halfway to the fence, the horse realized we were all alone in the pasture. Just the two of us. She bolted. I managed to hang on as she spun around upon reaching the fence, but it was nothing like what I wanted to experience. It was terrifying as the fence loomed larger and larger. I didn’t know what had happened to the reins and was very glad she had a long mane to wrap my fingers around.
We got back to the instructor, who stopped the horse and apologized profusely, again explaining that the horse was the gentlest of mares and had never ever done such a thing before.
After I regained my composure, my breath and my heart fell back into place, I simply nodded and agreed to return the following week, still determined to see it through.
That night I received a tearful call from the instructor. It seemed the mare had gotten out of the stable, broke down the fence and run out in front of an eighteen wheeler. Naturally, my fourth lesson was cancelled.
I took this as both insult and injury. I was saddened and, at the same time, angered by the idea that the horse would rather commit suicide than have me ride her. Such a sad, sad experience for me AND the horse.