I always wanted a horse. When I was a little girl, my Christmas list always included a horse. However, Santa never brought me a horse. I always thought it was because I stuck my tongue out at my brother or tweaked my sister’s nose one too many times. He would’ve seen that in his magic snowball or whatever he used to spy on little kids. More likely, however, it was because a horse would have seriously annoyed the other presents in his big red bag… or possibly it was because he knew that my parent’s half-acre lot was not big enough to host a horse.
I forgave Santa, but I never stopped wishing I had a horse. I went horse-back riding every chance I had after I started making my own money, but after I married and had children, I realized that you really can’t take a baby horseback riding, even if you wear the baby on your chest in a little snuggly bag. Babies bounce.
That is why, for the last 26 years, my backside had not been introduced to a saddle. For 26 years I have allowed myself to fantasize about galloping down a sandy beach, my hair flowing out behind me, the wind stinging my cheeks… until yesterday.
Yesterday, my daughter and I had an opportunity to go horseback riding. It was an all-day horse camp. My daughter has the same love for horses that I had and we were both thrilled at the prospect of being able to spend the day learning how to take care of horses and trail-riding.
That was yesterday. Today, every bone in my body is screaming for mercy. I have brush burns on my thighs, bruises on my bum, and I’m almost certain there are blisters on parts of my body that have never seen the sun. Today, I can’t remember exactly what it was that I enjoyed about bouncing around on the back of a bull-headed beastie.
The one I picked out was named Sunny. It was light-colored and had kind eyes. I thought she would be a good horse to start with after so many years. She turned out to be a he, however, and contrary to his appellation, Sunny was decidedly not Sunny. The kind eyes were hiding a stubborn, ornery soul.
Not to be sexist, but if I had known it was a male, I could’ve predicted that the only thing he’d be interested in, after he had been liberated from his testicles, is food.
At first, I spend nearly all my time trying to keep his head out of the grass. He seemed to take perverse pleasure in stopping on the way down a hill to have a little snack. I hung onto the back of my saddle for fear of sliding down his neck. After a while I realized that if I let him eat, preferably on flat areas, he would trot to catch up while he was chewing. He was a multi-tasker. Unfortunately, I didn’t employ that wisdom until my arm muscles had sustained considerable damage from trying to pull up his head.
Sunny the horse was definitely mad at the world and couldn’t care less what I wanted to do. And who could blame him? He’d been imprisoned in a barn that stunk to high heaven. When he was taken out, a human of significant weigh would fling themselves on his back and he wasn’t allowed to dine until he got back to the barn. That’s not even mentioning the fact that certain integral parts of his anatomy had been stolen from him before he even had a chance to enjoy them.
I felt a little sorry for him. That’s one of the reasons I allowed him to snack between trotting yesterday. That was yesterday.
Today, I would cheerfully castrate that horse with a dull butter knife if my sore, aching body would let me.