Walking in the front door, I realized why horseback riders choose, where possible, to have two sets of Washers and Dryers in the house. It’d been an hour since grooming and putting Scarlet back into her stall, but there she was, still with me after driving 30 miles. She was there, stuck to my riding boots and pants. Tuffs of reddish-brown hair.
When I had arrived at the farm for my first lesson, I was overcome with self-doubt. I’d been on a horse once. It had been thrilling as a teen, even though the ride had amounted to me being led around and around in circles for a full 10 minutes. Getting onto the back of a horse and riding it around a track with me holding the reins was going to be new.
“Did I over equip myself?”, “Should I have tried to find gear more reasonably priced?”, “Did I do enough research?”, “What are they going to think when they see my, more than entry level, Helmet?”, “What if they figure out my boots are brand new Petrie and judge me for that? They are literally overkill and I know it.”, ” They’ll judge me harshly because maybe they’ll expect that I should ‘KNOW’ what I am doing, or better yet, know that I shouldn’t bother trying!”, “Maybe I am too old, too tall and too heavy to ride a horse and they’ll tell me so when they see me!”, “Don’t men ride horses? Sure, but they’d expect a man to weigh over 140 lbs and would have chosen a horse accordingly.”
There I was, at the barn, mentally spinning out of control as I paced around the entrance way. Is this where I was supposed to be?
At a quarter past 6, the lesson prior to mine was over and Laura the Instructor, Jen the Student and Scarlet the horse traipsed into the barn.
Jen, no more than 13, was jubilant! She was so excited she could hardly contain herself. If I were to describe her emotions, it was as though she were doing acrobatic flips off the barn walls, over the horse and running circles all around us. But no, she wasn’t doing any flipping, she was holding the reins, steady, guiding the horse.
“You can leave her here Jen, the next rider will take her out as she is.” Laura instructed
Jen looked in my direction, “Awesome, you are going to LOVE Scarlet, she is the absolute BEST! She’s the GREATEST!” she exclaimed as she struggled to find the best adjective to describe her adoration and excitement.
She handed the reins to Laura and did a little dance, a dance only a 13-year-old can do when they can no longer contain a feeling that just needs to be seen. She tapped her feet around, did a little pirouette, tried to hand her riding crop to Laura but the hand-off failed as she continued to spin. Eventually she pulled herself together and placed the riding crop on a stack of hay bails as Laura had instructed.
The moment she put down the riding crop, she dashed between Scarlet and myself, bee-lining for the door as she yelled back at Laura, “SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!!!!!”
And she was gone as quickly as she arrived.
Everything I had been thinking and feeling was gone, sucked out of me, I was focused and ready. I was right where I needed to be. Thank you Jen!
Names have been changed.