On Saturday afternoon, I went horseback riding with my friends, Mikaela and Ashley.
Knowing me as you do, you know that anything concerning Nature usually gives me agita.
Nature and I have a love/hate relationship in that we love to hate each other. Whenever I interact with Nature, something goes horribly wrong. In Africa, I got mauled by safari ants aka SIAFU! In Bolivia, I fell into a hole while weeding a yard. At the Palm Beach zoo (which is supposed to be contained Nature) I got chased by a peacock. In Jamaica, the goats followed me. I’m still not sure why. It was not my goal in life to be the goat whisperer.
I figure it has something to do with my Sharpe genes because my cousin, Rachel, a Sharpe cousin, always gets attacked by birds. (That’s not a lie. You can ask her yourself. Rachel’s life is a continuous reenactment of Hitchcock’s The Birds.) We were terrified to take her on safari in Kenya because we were convinced that baboons were going to steal her and make her their queen.
However, I like Mikaela and Ashley and I want them to like me. When they said, “Let’s go horseback riding!” I said, “Heck yeah! That’ll be fun.”
In my head I was thinking, “AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”
At 11am on Saturday, we arrived at the park and met a woman at the stables. She asked if we had riding experience. Mikaela has been riding for several years, but Ashley and I only know what horses look like from episodes of “My Little Pony.”
Woman at the ranch: You’ve got riding experience?
Mikaela: I rode horses for a few years.
Woman: Ok, we’re gonna put you on Cajun. And you’ve never ridden before, right?
Ashley: Not at all.
Woman: We’ll put you on Hershey. And you?
Me: I think I rode once when I was a kid.
Woman: We’re gonna put you on Big Grey.
Me: Big Grey?
Woman: Yeah, he’s like a Cadillac. Everybody loves him!
What about me screams, “I wanna ride a horse named ‘Big Grey’”?
Not only that, but what about me screams, “I wanna ride the Cadillac of horses”?
If anything, I want to ride the Honda Civic of horses. Give me the Prius of horses and I’ll take that out for spin…or a trot. As it is, to say that Big Grey was the Cadillac of horses was an understatement.
Big Grey is the Ford F-250 of horses.
They saddled us up and a guide took us on a trail. Cajun and Mikaela were in front, Hershey and Ashley were in the middle, and Big Grey and I were in the back. We were moving along at a steady pace, our guide was friendly and talkative which helped to relax my nerves. She warned us at the beginning that we would have to duck often because the trees were low. That plan worked well for Mikaela and Ashley, but I was riding an 18-wheeler with hooves.
Ducking did absolutely nothing.
To give credit where credit is due, Big Grey was a very sweet horse. He didn’t jerk or walk hard on the trail and he kept a steady pace…most of the time. Big Grey’s one flaw was that he was a tad impatient. The guide stopped us on the trail at one point to tell us some interesting factoid and Big Grey decided that he’d had enough of being in the back of the line. He walked past Ashley’s horse and headed to the front.
Apparently this act of treason is unforgivable on the trail.
Our Guide: Ma’am, you need to rein in the horse!
Me: Ok (pulling on the reins). That didn’t really do anything.
Guide: Ma’am, you need to rein in the horse! He cannot walk up here!
Me: I’m pulling on the reins.
Guide: REIN IN THE HORSE! YOU NEED TO REIN IN THE HORSE!
Big Grey: Why is she calling you “ma’am”? You’re only 23.
Me: I know, right?
Guide: HE CANNOT BE UP HERE! YOU NEED TO CONTROL THE HORSE!
Me: I’M TRYING!
Mikaela: Gyasi, just give it a good tug, you won’t hurt him.
Me: (pulling on the reins) Like that?
Big Grey: I don’t want to stand at the back of the line.
Me: You think I like it either? I’ll be smelling horse for days.
Big Grey eventually went back to the end of the line and I gave him a scratch behind the ears for being so compliant. He then walked me into low hanging branch to show that he could not be so easily bought.
At least I tried.
As we moseyed along the trail our guide decided it was time to give trotting a try. Trotting is much like walking only faster. When you’re trotting on a horse, you’re supposed to put your weight on the ball of your foot and move with the horse as he trots. You post and stud which is basically lifting yourself slightly out of the saddle and sitting back down with each of the horse’s strides.
Mikaela did this like a champ.
Ashley got the hang of it in 10 seconds.
I looked like a fish flopping about on dry land.
For some reason I could not get the hang of posting and studding. Every time I tried to move with Big Grey I nearly fell out of the saddle. I had to hold onto the reins and the saddle for dear life every time we trotted.
Our Guide: Ok, let’s give trotting a try!
Me: What the heck does that mean?
Our Guide: Ready? Go!
(2 minutes later)
Our Guide: How was that?
Mikaela: I feel good.
Ashley: That was fun.
Me: I think I swallowed a filling.
Big Grey: Wuss.
Me: Shut up!
And it continued from there.
Our Guide: Wanna trot again? Ok, go!
Me: Oh hell.
Big Grey: Yeehaw!!
(2 minutes later)
Our Guide: How are you doing back there on Big Grey?
Me: (spitting out foliage) WHAT?!
Me: Ok, Big Grey, you and I are going to get the hang of this.
Big Grey: What are you talking about “you and I”? I already got this. Just hold on.
Me: Not again! AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!! Wait, I think I just posted! I’m posting! I’m posting!
Big Grey: Watch out for that tree.
Me: What? AHHHHH!!!!
Big Grey: That’s why you’re supposed to stud.
Me: I hate you.
By the end of the ride, Big Grey and I finally came to an understanding.
Me: If I let you do whatever the heck you want, will you stop walking me into trees and branches?
Big Grey: Those are agreeable terms.
We finished the ride in relative peace and the guide didn’t yell me at me again. We did however, pass by some peacocks, but Big Grey turned his steely eyes on them and they didn’t chase us. Perhaps I have become the horse whisperer.
Stable hand: You’re going to need to swing your leg over, lay down on Big Grey’s back, and then slide off.
Me: Like this? (Falls off horse)
Stable hand: No, not like that at all.
Then again maybe not.