Have you ever had one of those totally spontaneous moments were you and your friend (or family member) come up with an idea and at first it sounds amazing, like….it really sounds perfect. You check the weather, your bank account, you sit in silence to see if you get a bad gut feeling warning you of impeding doom, everything is lining up great so you agree to go ahead with the plans. I mean come on, there is absolutely no way that a supervised horseback ride through a national forest could go wrong. It’s not like we were taking a ride through the Grand Canyon, this is Nebraska. The corn state.
Well, I guess what I didn’t figure into the equation was, me. I’m a klutz.
Saturday turned out to be beautiful, the clouds slowly disappeared, the temperature was in the low seventies. It was perfect. Sure the trails were a bit muddy from the down pour we had the previous night but that only meant that our shoes would get a little dirty during our hike which we had planned to do after our ride.
My daughter and I aren’t avid riders, sure we’ve ridden horses before…… granted, for me it was thirty years ago during summer camp and for her it’s probably been a little over seven years but how hard could it be? You climb on, stay calm, don’t fear the animal, hold onto the reins and follow the horse in front of you. Simple.
For the first ten minutes I was in my element. I was one with nature, seriously loving every moment as we rode deeper into the woods. I could do this every weekend, I thought to myself as I adjusted my ass on the saddle. Which I was doing quite a bit, but I thought this was normal. Maybe I’m not sitting on it right. So I adjusted my sitting position, again.
“Mom, your saddle is slipping. You’re leaning a bit.”
“No, I’m fine. I’ll be fine.” I yelled back. As visions of an old Laurel and Hardy scene popped into my head with Hardy holding on for dear life while his saddle slips to the side and he’s left riding on the side of the horse.
Not too soon after I’m being instructed by one of the lead riders to stop my horse so he can adjust my saddle. I tell Trigger (don’t remember the horses name so lets just call him Trigger for now) to stop and he complies. Now, the width of the trail isn’t that wide, it’s probably the length of a love seat…..to the right of me is just a solid hill and to the left is a nice little drop off filled with your average foresty mix….. trees, weeds, branches, probably poison ivy, creepy crawlies and a shit load of other wildlife. While I waited for the man to approach, his horse Chester decides to check things out and pushes himself to the right of me, spooking my horse. Now, my horse was probably thinking, “DUDE Chester what did I tell you about boundaries?” ….hell, I get it! I wouldn’t want anyone up in my face either.
Well, as the guy is trying to get a handle of his horse, good old Chester wasn’t having it and he flung his big thick horse head into my forehead. So, now I can check off “get head butted by a horse” from my bucket list. It was at that moment my horse starts moving rapidly backwards, down the muddy incline that we had just came from. Now, a lot of things were going through my head (like a lot of cuss words) but I knew I needed to stay calm.
Trigger did eventually stop. All was good. I took a few deep breaths and reassured him that we were fine. The man walked over, adjusted my saddle and within minutes we were back on our way enjoying the beautiful scenery.
“Uhm, yeah your saddle still isn’t right. We need to fix it.” I heard from behind me.
Fuck, I’m seriously that kid whose shoelaces keep coming undone and has to hold up everyone. Come on, I thought he had fixed the dang saddle. By this time, my head was throbbing and I could feel a nice size goose egg forming on my forehead. Seriously the last thing I wanted to do was stop.
He instructed me once again to stop my horse as he rode around to the left of me, well…..apparently, in passing Chester must have said something to Trigger because it pissed him off (spooked him) and now, my horse is backing up and some how looses his footing and now we are going backwards down into the woods.
We’ve all heard that when one is about to die our life flashes before our eyes….yeah that wasn’t happening. As the trail was no longer in my view all I could hear was the man shouting to let go of my reins. Are you fucking MAD? Let go? is all I could think while we were quickly descending deeper into the woods. “Let go of the reins” he kept shouting. I wanted to scream, but nothing was coming out. I just kept thinking this horse is going to topple over with me on it. Fuck. That’s when I heard a voice from deep within my being, “You’re going to have to get off the horse or you’re going to die.”
I’m assuming this inner voice was coming from my guardian angel/Spirit Guide and the conversation kind of went something like this.
Me: WHAT? You want ME to get off this horse? I think not.
GA: Get off the FUCKING horse Jolene.
Me: Just HOW do you expect me to get off this horse while we are falling backwards? I’m ON a HORSE! What if I land on a branch and it impales me or I die?
GA: Fall off the horse NOW.
That’s when shit got fuzzy because all I remember is letting the reins fall from my hands, removed my feet from the safety of the stirrups and “gracefully” slid off to the right of the horse while still going down hill. (all the while holding my phone in my right hand) I recall planting my feet on the ground, slipping a bit but then holding my left arm up protecting me from colliding with the horse. Everything was happening so fast but eventually Trigger found his footing within the muddy forest and tried his best to climb back up. In a daze, I followed.
When we made it back up onto the trail, I saw my daughter staring at me and once she knew that I was okay she turned her head and looked forward. I knew she wanted to bust up laughing at the situation, well once she knew I wasn’t dead or injured.
“You’re going to have to get back on the horse.” The man said.
“Nope, I’ll walk.” I replied. What the hell, was this guy NUTS? my horse wasn’t in the mood to have someone on its back and we just both fell down a hill. I knew that I was speaking for the both of us when I said, “Nope, I’ll walk.” I would be insane to get back on the horse after all that.
Get on the horse, you’ll be okay. I seriously, couldn’t believe I was standing there considering this. I must have really bumped my head hard.
“Here, I will hold it still. Just put your foot in the stir up.” The man steadied good old Trigger as I studied the stir-up. Now, I had no platform to assist me this time around I had no clue how I was going to raise my now sore leg up into the stir up and then give myself enough boost to throw my right leg over the rear of the horse.
You can do this. You’ve been working out. You have muscle. This was when I wish someone had recorded this whole event because I somehow managed to hoist myself up like a rookie cowgirl. I adjusted myself in my saddle, took a deep breath and tried to calm my now frazzled nerves.
“Are you okay?” the man asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I lied. He knew it.
“No, you’re not. You’re breathing really hard. Just relax.”
Now, what I wanted to say was, “In the span on ten minutes I’ve been head butted by good old Chester over there and I just went down that damn hill backwards on a horse and had to climb back up. Let me see you do all that and not act like you just ran a fucking marathon or beat death.” but I just reassured him that I was fine.
As we all resumed our trail ride in silence and without any more near death experiences I gave thanks to God, my spirit guides and my kick ass guardian angels for getting me through all that….because if I’m being honest that was all them, not me. Sure, at one point I sat there wondering where the fuck was that dashing, brave man on horse back racing to my rescue. Fuck, not even the trail guy came down to meet us half way.
But, this isn’t like the cheesy romantic movies I’ve spent my life watching. This was my life and in that moment I was my own damn hero…..who literally had to get back on the horse when I thought it was damn near fucking impossible.
I remember looking up into the sky, shaking my head and laughing as I thought, “You’re really going to throw in a life lesson in amongst this chaos? Yeah, You got to get back on the horse, I clearly got the message. Literally.
We all made it safely back to the stable and as I waited for someone to take me over to the platform to get off the horse, that’s when I heard someone yell ” FUCK” and as I turned my head, I saw my daughter covered in mud and probably some horse shit. I guess if I had to judge her dismount I would have given her a two.
“We are so banned from this place.” I mumbled to Trigger.
*FYI…. no horses were injured*