- From L to R: Me, Tessa, Cory
…Is to have a sore butt. Saturday marked the taking-on of my first fear: riding a horse. Why is this a fear you ask? Haha, well, if you’re asking, you must not know me.
I am not an outdoorsy type of girl at all, and me riding a horse is like how Chuck Liddell was trying to learn a waltz on Dancing With the Stars. (For those of you culturally deprived, Chuck Liddell is a UFC guy. For those of you who still have no idea what I’m talking about, UFC stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship. Personally, I prefer the acronym Unfriendly Fighting Children.)
I’m the kind of girl who sneezes at even the thought of a pine tree crossing her path. The closest contact I’ve ever had to an animal was allowing my cat to sit on my lap once. The thought of facing the elements, mounting a horse as tall as Mt. Everest, and still looking classy while doing it had me reeling. Well, maybe not reeling, but it did make me nervous.
I’ve actually always loved horses and the thought of riding one sounded really fun. But it seemed so unlike me! Outdoors, with an animal, hands-on… yeah, might not end well. The whole cowgirl thing was great for other people, but me? Um, no. I’d probably just make a fool of myself.
Maybe in my secret dreams I wanted to be like Laura in the Little House on the Prairie, but that’s exactly where that idea needed to stay: in my dreams. If I was braver, I might go on a horseback ride, but until then…
Thus, it made it onto The Fear List. Only time would tell how intelligent a choice it was.
I made plans with my friend Tessa and her boyfriend Cory for a lovely Saturday afternoon ride. It would only be an hour-perfect for a beginner. But as I am apt to do, I began worrying. How on earth was I gonna get my tiny 5-foot-nothin’ frame on such a magnificent animal as that? What if I came off it with one of those idiotic crab walking poses like you see in movies? Oh, heaven help me-how was I going to get off at all? What if I got into one of those freak accidents where the horse rolled over on top of me and I became a paraplegic who would never realize her dreams of becoming a professional dancer? (I’m not actually a dancer. But I am a writer, and as such I have quite the overactive imagination.)
Lord, I prayed, I really think the horses they choose are gentle and sweet and accommodating. But if mine gets any ideas, you talk to it. You’re designated horse whisperer today.
Upon arriving, I saw three horses tethered uphill and gulped. No turning back now! After signing two pages’ worth of tiny type saying I would not hold the ranch responsible for any injury that may occur and being offered a helmet, I felt much better.
I was ecstatic when I got the pretty horse- a dappled dulce de leche rather than the boring brown the other two were. For any inexperienced riders out there, yes, choosing a pretty horse is important.
I mounted after Cory, pleasantly surprised at how easily my leg had swung over and how relatively classy I had managed to remain. Our I got-the-short-end-of-the-straw-and-have-to-babysit guide quickly gave me the basics: if you want the horse to go left, pull left. If you want it to go right, pull right. Kick it to go, pull it toward you to stop, and pull up if it wants a snack. Well, that didn’t seem so bad… But I reminded myself not to be overly confident.
However, I was surprised when, within minutes, my worries were forgotten and I was having a good time. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I’d expected it to be! My horse was very obliging, sensitive to when I told it to slow, and content to stay right behind the guide’s horse. I could have hugged it. How unjust I had been to the poor quadruped before even meeting it!
I didn’t experience a moment of fear after that. I just enjoyed the ride. It was slow, a simple loop around and somewhat boring, but I like slow, peaceful things. The steady clop, clop of the horse’s hooves and the beautiful scenery sprawled all around was enough to satisfy me. The rolling green hills, the protective mountains, and the occasional leaf turned gold or bluebird vibrantly streaking out of a bush brought a smile to my lips. What a perfectly serene moment to thank my God for the majesty he’d shown me of himself in the beauty of creation… in the power of the strong horse beneath me, and in the song nature hummed to him.
How wrong I was to doubt you taking care of me and to be afraid of this, I told him.
We arrived back at the ranch without a single problem, and I was actually reluctant to dismount. Getting down was a little less classy than getting up had been, but I was elated when I found I could walk normally. I wasn’t crabby at all.
It would appear as if my fear had been unfounded.I tried to pinpoint just what exactly I had been afraid of. Was it the horse? No. I really did trust the ranch’s pick. Falling off, then? No. Falling happened, but was unlikely. Then what? It took only a few more moments of reflection to find out: it was a mix of trying something new and different, with the possibility of failing or looking dumb.
Really? Was that all? I was afraid of trying something new and different? Then as a baby, why had I decided to start walking instead of crawl? Was that not something new and different, and should I not have been afraid? Not all things new and different are bad.
With the possibility of failing or looking dumb… ah, that one hit close. I have known the fear of failure all my life. It has kept me from trying so many things, because it has convinced me I can’t do it. So I don’t. To keep from disappointing myself or someone else, I have sometimes avoided what doesn’t look easy at first glance.
I once heard the quote: “Just because something is hard for you, do not think it impossible.” Many times I have seen hard, seen difficult, and consequently, seen impossible. Seen failure. And oh, what a tight hold failure has. Unless it is tried.
Like a criminal in court, failure’s case seems to be built strongly in its favor with more than enough witnesses-our previous attempts-giving strong eyewitness testimony. Its arguments seem irrefutable, its smug glances rightfully placed. We are the victim of this bullying criminal until we let our God-our lawyer, defender, and helper-make His case. Suddenly, the criminal’s lies do not stand. Truth alone prevails, and courage takes the stand. “You can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives you the strength,” Truth says(Philippians 4:13) and, “With you this is impossible, but with me all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26.)
Do not forget, my fellow fear-fighter, that fear in its very nature, is afraid. Stand your ground, believe on God’s promises, and it will flee. (James 4:7.) Truth will always overpower deceit. Light will overpower darkness, and faith, fear. Will you let fear dominate you and bully you, when your Heavenly Father is right by your side? Will you allow cowardice to take hold of you, when you know the mighty wonders your God has done? Can you allow it that right and power over you?
Then get back on that horse if you have slipped off, or maybe get on for the first time. Like me, you might just find yourself enjoying the ride.