First things first... if you know me then you may know that I am no adventure seeker or an adrenaline junky. It's just not my style. You won't find me bungee jumping or sky diving because, quite frankly, I'm too much of a scaredy cat.
Which, leads me into my latest adventure. A few of my closest friends had made plans to be in town this past weekend, so I thought it would be fun to do something a little out of the norm. I had been informed that through Russell Lands Adventure Center one could schedule a time to explore a few trials via horseback. Now, I wasn't sure of any other details. I didn't know the cost of the excursion, the length of time, or even where the trails were located.
I immediately got in touch with the Equestrian Director (ED) at Russell Lands to figure out some of the details and scheduled our group of five for this past Saturday morning.
I jokingly told the him that I would like the most gentle old soul he had and would even be okay with a horse that was a bit arthritic and slow. The ED laughed and told me he see me on Saturday.
I have ridden a horse a few times. My Uncle Jack had horses and we would ride them on occasion when we were younger. Also, one of my friends had a few horses and let me ride a few times when I was younger as well. However, I am not one with the horses, so to speak, but I was willing to branch out and go for it.
When we arrived at the trail head, as the ED called it, he was ready with all of the horses saddled and waiting. I will be honest, I was feeling a bit nervous yet excited at the same time. The ED lead me to my horse first. The horse I was ridding was named Gray, because he was, well, gray. I hopped right on, took a deep breath and yelled YEEE HAW- ok... so... I didn't really yell anything because I didn't want to scare Gray but I was kind of thinking I'm ready for this... or so I thought.
The next thing I knew we were all on our designated horses and ready to head out.
click to enlarge. names of person and horse included
The ED was going to lead us along the trail. My idea of a trail is more like a dirt road. I assumed it would be wide and well cleared. Not so much the ED's idea of a good trail. We headed off into the woods one behind the other on narrow wooded trails. At first I was really enjoying it. I even commented aloud that Gray and I were kindred spirits. Little did I know....
As the trail progressed we ventured along the lakeside and over several small creeks. It was beautiful. Then it got real... real fast, for me at least.
We topped a small hill and the trail went STRAIGHT DOWN, like WAY DOWN. I didn't like the sight of it and I didn't want to do it. The ED knew I would need a bit of coaching so he told me to hang on to the back of the saddle, put my feet forward, and pull back on the reigns... Easy for him to say he wasn't on the verge of fearful tears. I'm not sure I did anything that he told me to do... I just held on for dear life and went with it. I put all my faith in Gray and kind of shut my eyes. The next thing I knew I was at the bottom of the steep hill and Gray was lunging over the creek at the bottom and making a mad dash up the other side.
People say that a horse can sense when someone is scared. They know when they've got the upper hand and Gray knew. Oh, he knew all too well he was the boss from that point on. I went from kindred spirits with Gray to Gray's bitch... just like that.
He was veering off the trail, going the wrong way around trees, and he would even slow down in order to create some distance between us and the horse in front of him so that he could trot in order to catch up. Basically, Gray was taking full advantage of my delicate situation.
I didn't want Gray to fully turn on me so I spent the rest of the ride apologizing to the dang horse. I know you are thinking, Are you kidding me? No. I'm not kidding. It went like this: Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! I'm sorry. My bad. I shouldn't pulled back so hard. Oh. God. It was ridiculous.
I was ready for the ride to end. I had been adventurous enough for one day, but I couldn't just bail. We were deep in the woods on a trail not fit for walking. Then I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. We came to a dirt road that we had to cross over in order to continue on the trail. That's where I threw my hands up and yelled, "I'm done." I would walk my horse back to the starting point. We'd be just fine. [I'm pretty sure I cried a little at this point but that's lame, so yeah, let's not dwell on that]
I think the ED was worried that I hadn't enjoyed myself. The truth is I loved it to begin with. I just never came back from the monster hill that went straight down... that my horse basically "scooted" down and raced up.
I think Gray felt bad that he had taken advantage of me, however, we finished on good terms.
Disregard the crazy hair... I had been flailing about on the back of a horse for an hour... what's a girl to do?
Someone (not anyone that was along for the ride) made that comment that I was probably the type of person that they laughed at after it was all said and done, but that's absurd! The Equestrian Director and his wife were nothing but kind and encouraging. I even agreed to come down to the barn sometime and practice riding in the arena (I think I would do better in an enclosed area) so that I will have more confidence in my riding ability next time.
I would recommend anyone with at least some experience with horses spend a Saturday morning with the ED and his wife out on the ole dusty trail.