Posted by: mesabimisadventures | June 26, 2009

Regulators… Mount up!

It only took me ten years.

But I did it.

This Monday, June 22nd, was my official Back on the Saddle Day courtesy of my wonderfully patient, kind and gentle sister-in-law.

Sigh…

In an ideal world, life would be pleasantly divided.  We would have our publicly embarrassing moments and we would have our physically painful moments completely segregated from each other.  Unfortunately, this world is not ideal and occasionally we are lucky enough to have those moments occur simultaneously. 

Eleven years ago I was asked to ride a draft horse in the Carlton County Fair’s Novelty Horse Race.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the size of a draft horse, come and check out the Draft Horse Pull at the St. Louis County Fair in a month.  Say hi to my dad, he’ll probably be announcing it.  Draft horses are, to put it simply, the horse world’s equivalent of an NFL linebacker (the fiercely agile guys, not just the bulky).

In an ideal world, I would be able to tell you the story of how I, the girl who had only ridden a horse a few times in her life, swept the competition that was loaded with genuine riding horse people.  People used to saddles, riding a horse versus leading them or driving them, basically, people who had a clue what they heck they were doing on top of a horse.  Alas, once again it was not an ideal world that day.

They waved us to Go! and apparently my horse assumed that meant vertically.

I saw my helmet land and bounce in the sand in front of the horse.  And then I saw my feet, but instead of dirt below them, I saw sky.  Blue sky.  In my peripheral, I saw the back leg swing by me as I fell and then I landed.

On my neck.  In the sand.  In front of way too many people crowding the Grandstands watching the Sunday races.  I laid in the sand and through the gap at the bottom of the fence, I saw my mom and step-dad running towards me.  I crawled to the infield and collapsed as the ambulance and dad came flying towards me.

Pride goeth before a fall.

My sister-in-law told me that day that I didn’t have to ride.  She saw how scared I was and how uneasy the horse seemed.  She knew a bad situation was brewing.  But I stayed on.  For no good reason other than I didn’t want to look like a wuss.  My gut instinct was kicking in and threatening to soon show me what cotton candy looks like after a two-way trip.  But I stayed on.  I wanted so desperately to be one of the cool riding horse girls who are fluid and smooth on a horse.  In my eyes, a girl who shows draft horses just never reaches that pinnacle of horse world coolness.  So I stayed on until the horse decided he no longer wanted me plodding along with him.  My dad still likes to tell people that I made it 8 seconds.  It felt like hours to me, so I just may have.

A lot of pain to protect my pride.  Pain that is still hanging around 11 years later, lingering around the corner waiting to fully show itself in about another 11 years.  And have you ever wondered what a doctor does to make sure your broken tailbone isn’t blocking your colon?  As I found out, you don’t have to land on your keister in order to break and tear important bones and muscles in it.  Who knew?!

Fear was instilled.  Deep fear.  Resounding through my soul fear.

But I did it on Monday.  I went down to visit my sister-in-law and my nieces and after serious root-beer float bribing of my nieces to let me ride one of their horses, my sis saddled up a horse that she promised wouldn’t buck me off.  She gently helped me up into the saddle, reminded me that my shoulders weren’t supposed to be touching my ears and quietly waited as I adjusted to the feeling of being on a horse again.  Surprisingly, I felt nothing but calm.

Maybe it was the fact that she held onto a leadrope the whole time.  Maybe it was because I was busy laughing at my nieces who within 5 seconds started complaining that I was taking soooo long and I had been on the older girl’s horse forEVer (said with a sadness I can only replicate if you take my iPhone from me).  Maybe it was her confidence that I would be alright.

Whatever it was, it worked.

I didn’t ride long and I only was without my sis for a few minutes.

But I did it.

And I’ll do it again soon.

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