It was June of 2006. My children were growing up and I found myself with some time on my hands. I wandered around the house, restless, missing the days of my youth. Then I decided to get the dog groomed. His underfur makes the summers very hot.
The lady at the grooming place agreed to work around my schedule to drop him off and pick him up. Her name is Sue. She was having a slow day and so was I. I noted the pictures in her waiting area – all sorts of horses and dogs – and I asked her about them.
We started talking about animals and she explained to me that she rescues horses and dogs that might otherwise be put down. As she told me about one she was working with at the time, my eyes started to sparkle. “Sounds like fun” I commented.
She asked if I knew about horses. I confessed that I had spent most of my first 20 years on horseback. She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. There was a horse that she had that was just too much for her to handle. She had turned her ankle recently and the horse was too tall for her to get on easily. Would I be interested in exercising him for her?
Indeed I would. A couple of days later, I was at her place. I helped her saddle the horses and we started out on our ride down the country road. It felt good to be in the saddle and the horse was just feisty enough to make the ride an enjoyable challenge. I had to stand on a bucket to reach the stirrups, he was so big.
We rode along the edge of the street, getting the horse I was on used to cars going by. Then a car drove by that I recognized. It was my son’s girlfriend and one of her friends. I laughed and told Sue “Well, that should cause some confusion.”
Moments later the car came back and pulled up next to us as we rode. My son’s girlfriend hung out the window and exclaimed “HEY! YOU’RE ON A HORSE!” She looked confused and concerned. I laughed, looked down and said “Oh my GOD, you’re right! How did that happen?” and then “Really, it’s ok. I do know what I’m doing.”
We rode until dark, through the neighborhood and around the area. We stopped at my house and I got my big flashlight to use as a headlight when night fell.
That day, just for a while, I was 16 again. The horse did buck. And I did not fall off. And I had fun.