I'm a crazy horse lover. I mean, if you think you're a bold rider, brave lover, then you haven't met me.
I just realized that sounds really...Prideful and mean, and I'm sorry. I know there are TONS of people out there who are WAY WAY WAY better than me, but for my age group, I'm...Pretty good, let's say.
I used to be so afraid of horses. They seemed to have a threatening look in their eyes, daring me to come forward to my certain death. The though of those steel-hard hooves scared me to death, and I wanted to have nothing to do with what I called "Bloody Beasts." I really hatted horses. And that's an understatement.
Besides just my fear of death by horses, I also hated tthe smell of them. When I was really little my Mom and Dad took me to the county fair. The kiddy rides were great, and I thought the little bunnies were so cute, but when we went into the horse barn I wrinkled my nose up. It stunk in there. Now I'm surprised, remembering back to how dirty that barn was. My guess is the riders weren't exactly cleaning the stalls like they should have been. I get so mad thinking about it now.
So anyways, whenever I would think of horses, I would remember the stench of that barn.
When I was six I took up ballet. I was such a girly-girl, all into pretty pink tutus and all the twirly moves I would practice at home. Little did I know how all the ballet classes I took would make me into a rider. I don't think anything about my life would be like it is now if I hadn't gotten into ballet.
When I was 8 years old I was getting really good at ballet. I was starring in show routines and doing solos as well. (Sorry if that's not the right words for ballet exhibitions, but I can hardly remember ANYTHING about ballet anymore.)
As I was saying,I was getting pretty good at dancing, when my family decided we were going to visit my Aunt Bethany and Uncle Ray. Aunt Bethany was my Dad's sister. they'd never gotten along very well, but lately they had been talking a lot over Facebook,so I knew they were pushing aside old grudges. I still didn't know much about my aunt, but I was excited to meet her.
I'm always excited to meet people, I'm an extreme extrovert I guess, and I LIVE on people being around me. Plus, my Aunt and Uncle had three kids. I was SO excited!
You can guess my horror when I woke up as Dad parked our mini-van and nervously stated that "We're here." Why was I so horrified? I sat up and immediately saw out the window a barn, a round pen, and a couple of pastures. A path led over the hill to what I would find out were more pastures.
In the pastures were horses. In my eyes they were killing machines, cruelty in the flesh, and my eyes went wide and I gave out a little squeal. My throat tightened.
My Mom looked back at me and I could tell she had been smiling. I looking pleadingly at her and her smile dropped.
"Honey, what's wrong?" She asked.
I acted surprised. I didn't want her to know I was still afraid of horses. She'd tried so hard over the years to shake off my fear, and for a while then I hadn't really had any opportunity to show my fear.
So I said. "Nothing. I was sleeping."
She accepted that.
We climbed out of the van, and just then a lady with a messy bun came out of the house. A little girl with big eyes stood behind her, grinning broadly.
"Cousin!" the little girl yelled out to me.
I remember that my Aunt greeted us, and we went inside, put away our stuff, and met our cousins. Th oldest was a boy, Jacob, who was 12. The little girl who'd yelled out to me was Cassidy, and she was 4. Then there was Mindy, who was 9.
Everything that evening went in sort of a blur, because my mind was still filled with pictures of those awful horses. We would be staying for three days, and I'd made up my mind to stay in the house, or maybe just go out in the front yard. As long as I was far away from those horses and their fangs.
The next morning we got up and ate breakfast. I was starting to forget the horses, and Mindy and I were getting along really great together.
The first day went by in a rush of playing with my cousins and eating pancakes and oatmeal raisin cookies. We went out in the front yard for about an hour.
The next day I woke up and Mindy was standing right next to my bed, wanting to play. I jumped out of bed, and she dragged me outside.
"You'll want to see this. Daddy's going to ride Arrowhead. he's crazy! Daddy's a good rider, but Arrowhead..." She paused. "Daddy will get him tamed."
My heart started beating. I knew she meant that arrowhead was a horse, and I didn't want to see anyone thrown off and whipped with some broncos lash-like tail.
Immediately I saw, in the round pen, Uncle Ray and a nervous looking chestnut. The chestnut's ears went back, and her eyes showed white fury. I practically begged Mindy to come back inside so we could play, but she insisted I would like to see her Daddy break this horse.
I was close to tears when Uncle Ray started mounting. He got his leg over, but as soon as he nudged arrowhead forward, the horse threw a bucking fit. I screamed and tears came rolling down my face. I gripped Mindy's arm and saw her shocked face.
"Are you okay?" she asked. then, she suddenly realized what a stupid question that was. "C'mon, let's go inside and play."
As soon as we got inside I raced to the bedroom where I'd been sleeping and curled up in the blankets, shaking.
Mindy followed me and sat on the edge of my bed for a minute before jumping up and saying, "Let me go get Jake." That's what everybody called Jacob.
I looked up to Jake, and I wouldn't have wanted him to think I was a scaredy cat so I shouted out, "No!"
"Your Mom?" Mindy offered.
"No!" I shouted again, then struggling to regain my composure, I said. "I'm okay. Really, I am."
The next day I found out she had told Jake about my outburst. Somehow he'd figured out that I was afraid of horses, probably because I had been so quick to refuse to go pet the horses whenever he asked. And he asked me a lot.
It was our last day when Jake, who had been so friendly during our whole visit, began teasing me about being afraid of horses. he did it in a sort of friendly-brotherly way, but I didn't see it that way. I took it as an instant challenge, and I've never been one to ignore a challenge.
"Fine!" I finally said. "I'll PROVE I'm not afraid of horses!" I stormed out the house, feeling triumphant as my three cousins followed silently behind me.
As an afterthought, I turned and told them to wait in the house. They did, but Jake stopped to look suspiciously at me.
"You better not mess with any of the horses. Except old Rain, the paint. If you can put a halter on her and lead her out of the pasture, that will prove you're not afraid." he said.
I nodded, but I knew I was going to do more than just lead a horse out of the pasture.
When Jake was inside I went into the barn, grabbed what I somehow knew was a bridle, and went out to the pasture, dragging the long western reins behind me. I reached one of the pasture gates and went inside. I was surprised at how easily the bridle went on the horse's head and then led him out to the round pen.
Suddenly the door burst open and all three of my cousins raced out shouting.
"Don't you dare move! Stop! That horse is definitely OFF LIMITS!" Jake screamed, racing forward.
I thought fast, and leading the horse so he was right up against the fence, I climbed up the fence and threw myself onto the horse's bare back.
I heard Jake yell "No!", but just barely, because as soon as I landed on his back, Arrowhead began bucking and kicking out.
I held on for dear life crying and screaming with each jolt. He'd go up and I would fall forward, then down and I would bounce. He twisted and I squeezed heard with my legs, clenching his long mane that was stinging my face.
I kept my eyes closed, every moment I thought I would fly off of his back and fall with a hard thud and die right then. He bucked and kicked and twisted around.
Somehow I stayed on.
Eventually, after what felt like hours, arrowhead settled down and stopped. he threw his head up and gave a weird squeal. My heart was still racing. I wanted off but I couldn't move. I couldn't move because when Arrowhead turned around to look at me I saw a sparkle of humor in his eye. It wasn't mean humor though. I sat stone still and gazed into the brown pool of his left eye.
Suddenly my heart slowed down and I actually began feeling how smooth and warm the horse's hide was between my legs. I felt how strong and big his heart was and I could see how beautiful his head was, a defiant forelock off crazily to the side.
Suddenly I felt this strange feeling towards this crazy horse I had clung to during his bucking fit. The feeling scared me into mobility and I slid off, scurrying away from him.
I remember my parents were angry at me, and my cousins got in trouble, too.
Later when we went home and I was watching my pet rabbit, Muffins, explore my room, I felt a rush of love for her. She was so cute, with her wiggly nose and bright eyes.
Then it hit me: that larger-than-life love I felt now was a slightly smaller version of the emotion I'd felt back at Uncle Ray's and Aunt Bethany's.
I loved that horse.