Sunday, May 4, 2014

Adventures in 2014: Horseback Riding

She rears up on her hind legs. The hair of her mane flares like an uncontrollable wildfire. Suddenly, the afternoon sun sinks into a red sunset, foreshadowing my impending doom. She takes off running at full horse speed. Both of my feet are locked into the stirrups. My legs are squeezing Jasper's midsection like a vice grip, which only tells this wild-ass animal to run faster around the arena. She is naying and bucking like a bronco. I am convinced this wild horse has never been saddled before the moment I straddled my precious and portly body across her sturdy back. 

"Shit!!!" I shriek as I lose balance, but my legs are squeezing this animal so tight that I am afraid I will crush her midsection into the shape of a wasp. Somehow I am still holding onto the reins, but my core and upper body are so weak that I am being flailed around like a rag-doll that refuses to shake loose. With each gallop I see the soft, reddish brown dirt of the arena coming closer to my face then quickly further away. 

My head is rushing in a narrated vortex of jumbled words and possible outcomes, "Paralyzed. Fall. Piles of poop. Face plant."

I am determined to avoid embarrassment, I will not be the first person in my class to fall off a pony. Even though it is always funny to see a fat girl fall, it will not be this fat girl. 

Somebody is shrieking like an American Indian going into battle cry. 

"Stop screaming!" is being yelled at me from all directions. 

I am grasping at anything above me. My fingernails are weak and bending backwards as if I am attempting to scale a wall made from ceramic tile. Finally, I feel something in my left hand. It is the coarse hair of the pony's mane. I dig in. With only instinct controlling my body I reach my right hand towards my left. Both hands are intertwining in her hair. I pull up and steady myself securely in the saddle. Jasper slows to a stop, standing as still as an outdoor carousel stallion forgotten in the winter. 

I hysterically laugh, triumphant that I do not fall off of this angry, vindictive animal with blood lust in her eyes. As I sit atop the horse I reach up to my eyes because my sight is blurry. My face is soaked in tears and they just keep streaming down my cheeks.

I am sobbing as my professor makes her way over to me, "Why are you crying?"

"I'm terrified of this animal. I'm scared of horses."

"Then why are you still in the saddle?"

"Because," sniffle, "I was waiting for permission to get down."

"Get off of that pony! Why are you even taking this class?"

It is not even seven pm on Sunday night and I'm laying in bed recovering from a near death experience. I am beyond sore in places I've never felt before. Today, my life flashed before my eyes and it was not nearly as poetic as I imagined it to be.

The truth is, I am not an animal person at all. Animals are not my forte. I do not have pets. In fact, I only had one pet, a cat named Moonbeam, for a year back in high school. But, I am so hyper allergic that she was provided alternate lodging. 

I am just not an animal person. I never have been one. They are dirty. Animals waller in trash, anything dead, and their own poo. Worse yet, they eat all of that stuff too. Then they want to transfer those stinky filthy germs onto their humans via kisses or being petted. To this self-diagnosed germaphobe, that is disheartening and disgusting. To say I do not like any animal smells is an understatement. Dog breath, drool, mud splatters, animal sweat, wet-dog stench are stomach churning.  Add that to my extremely strong and sensitive sense of smell and I begin to dry heave. Then I obsess, those animal germs are seeping into every porous surface in the pet owner's home. alerting their guests that animals live here. 

As if not being an animal person is enough, I am terrified of heights. I have back problems. One swift jolt and I can be paralyzed. That is frightening enough, however, in horseback riding this terror is solely related to my inability to be in complete control while sitting on top of a wild animal. I am absolutely intimidated. 

In December I sat down and took a review of my life. I examined what I have accomplished and explored activities I want to attempt. The brainstorming session turned into a Bucket List. I call them my Adventures in 2014. They include such items as attending Mardi Gras to having my birthday party at Sky Zone. I choose at least one activity to complete every month. This is to force me to step outside of my proverbial box. Which leads to the reason why I am even taking horseback riding lessons. 

Since I have not ridden a horse in 20 years, I was at summer camp on a trail ride the last time a horse reared up while I was on his back, I wanted to conquer my fears. I have a momentary vision of grandeur. I imagine myself mastering my terror so that the next time my boyfriend and I take a vacation in Mexico we can remake random Antonio Banderas-esque, horseback riding scenes on the beach. I will post on the galloping horse and not a bit of fat jiggles on my body as the waves gently caress the shores as our horses splash through the surf and a random photographer or cinematographer beautifully captures our silhouettes framed against a stunning Mexican sunset.

I can tell you now, that romantic beach horseback ride is never going to happen. Remember above when that pony Jasper shot off on the wild hell ride forcing my life to flash before my eyes? She was actually being led by a 10 year old child at a child's jogging pace. I simply lost my balance while posting. Flailing like a rag-doll, nearly falling off the pony, and shrieking like a Freddy Krueger victim, that all happened. Subsequently so have my panic attacks associated with riding a pony. You win some you lose some; I am not always Confidently Awesome. I guess next month I will try to double up on my Adventures. 

I am currently enrolled in an English-style Horseback Riding course taken at Showcase Equestrian for credit at the University of Memphis. 

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