It's been three years since I was on the back of a horse. I turned the corner to a glen aptly named "The Runway" and fear struck my very core. Could I do this right? Was my horsemanship up to par? Could I engage in full gallop for the length of what seemed to be a mile, but was actually a meadow the size of a football field? Could I be just as good a rider as he was?
That day, fear consumed me and vibrated through my thighs to a young palomino. We were both panicked and, try as I might; there was no steering an immature animal underneath me. Elvis just wanted to get this crazy thing off his back and he headed straight for the only thing he knew would do the trick....a sycamore tree with a low, strong, camouflaged branch.
I saw nothing more than the image of my father. He was a cowboy, rode with the sheriff's posse in Utah, sat a horse from the time he was two. Elvis ran under the tree, and I, like some cartoon rag doll hit the branch with my helmeted head, and plopped off the horse's rump to a pillow of September grass.
Every time I've ridden, since I was nine years old, my father has been there in some capacity: in the horse, the wind, the saddle, but never physically. There between the blades of grass, watching hooves gallop away, a riding companion yelling from atop her mount, "You okay?" and me hollering through my wounded pride, "Yeah, but I am not getting back on that damn horse." My father whispered in the breeze: "Come on, kid, you can do it."
In the midst of dreams to be his daughter, life's
cycle was happening all around. An ex-husband was dying, children were grieving. A step-family growing painfully. And I didn't want to be more than a two year old, feeling the security of strong hands holding me on the back of a horse.
"Come on, kid," blew through the trees once more.