I love horseback riding. Always have. In fact, when my wife and I first starting dating, I took her horseback riding. I suppose it was partially to impress her, but also to see what she looked like on a horse. I love cowgirls. All the way back to Dale Evans, and up to Sharon Stone, In ‘The Quick & The Dead’. My wife to be had never been on a horse before, and requested an older, very slow and very sedate horse. With assistance, she climbed aboard, and off we went.
So, there we were, sitting tall in the saddle, as we paraded along the trail, with me riding behind her, watching her back side straddle the horse she was riding. I was certain that it was going to be an exciting ride!
After riding down the trail and across the stream, we stopped to rest the horses. Standing beside our horses, as they grazed on the wild grass, my date turned to me. “I don’t think this horse likes me very much.”, she said.
“Why would you think that?”, I asked, as I watched her horse nuzzle up against her leg.
“He doesn’t listen.”, she informed me. “When I tell him to slow down, he goes faster. And now, he just keeps stepping on my foot.”
“He’s playing.”, I stated.
“No.”, she replied. “He’s an ass. There’s something not right with him.”
“Maybe he’s freaked out by the white jeans you’re wearing.”, I offered.
“What’s wrong with my jeans?”, she asked.
“Well”, I postulated, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone wear white jeans to go horseback riding. It just can’t turn out well.”
As we mounted our rides again, we were informed that we could run them across the field, as fast as we felt comfortable. I was off like a shot, racing through the grass and the bushes as fast as my horse could run. I turned to see that my date was flailing around on her pony, rocking from side to side, with a look of terror on her face. I rode over to her, and settled her horse. She dismounted and stood beside the horse, staring at him, with eyes that I was sure could kill him, right there and then.
“Its okay.”, I told her. “I have the horse.”, as I grabbed on to the reins.
“I am not getting on that messed up animal again.”, she said, as she sat down on the grass.
“You may want to get up.”, I advised. “You’re going to get grass stains all over your ass.”
“I hate horseback riding.”, she informed me. “I’m never doing this again.”
“That’s okay.”, I told her.
“I’m sorry.”, she stated. I reached my hand out to her.
“Come on.”, I said. “You can ride back with me.” I pulled her up onto my horse, and she sat behind me. “Just hold on tight.” I pulled on the reins of her horse, and led him back to the stables. As we approached the barn, we were greeted by a stable hand.
“Something wrong?”, the young lady asked.
“My horse is an idiot.”, my wife said as I handed her horse’s reins to the hand. “He didn’t listen. He did whatever he wanted to do. He’s an ass.”
“Apparently, he is not as calm and sedate as we were led to believe.”, I added.
“I’m so sorry.”, the woman apologized. “I can give you a pass for a free ride next time you come out.”
“No, thank you.”, my wife responded. “There is not going to be a next time. Not ever.”
“We’ll take the pass.”, I interjected.
“I’m not doing this again.”, my wife said.
“You never know.”, I said. “We’ll take the pass.”
“What’s your name, honey?”, she asked my wife as she began filling out the pass.
“Just put it in my name,”, I said. “I paid for the ride.”
In the car on our return to civilization, she sat in silence. Not a word was spoken.
“That’s cool that we got a free pass.”, I said.
“I don’t know why.”, she stated. “I am not doing that again.”
“That’s fine.”, I told her. “I can use the pass when I go.”
“You’re going to go without me?”, she asked.
I looked at her, surprised that she thought that I wouldn’t, and I saw those eyes looking at me much like the way she looked at that horse. “Are you telling me that I can’t go horseback riding without you, but since you don’t want to go, I can’t go back at all?”
She said nothing. The next 35 minutes were the longest 35 minutes ever. Not a word was spoken, until I got her home. I wasn’t sure if I would ever see her again. I went back to the stables a few days later, and used the free pass. I rode and rode, racing across the field, through the grass and the bushes, across the stream, and up the escarpment. I sat tall in the saddle, looking out over the valley below.
My future wife called me the next day, and we went out for dinner. “I’ve given it some thought.”, she said. “And I think I would like to try horseback riding again. But with a different horse. Maybe we can go on the weekend. I still have that free pass, so even if I hate it again, it didn’t really cost anything.”
“I’m sorry.”, I told her. “I used the pass a couple of days ago.”
“Are you serious?”, she asked.
“Yes.”, I said. “You said that you would never go back. I went after work.”
“Well”, she said. “I guess you had better find something else for us to do.”
“You know.”, I replied, “if you’re going to be so difficult, and make my life so complicated, we may as well be married.”
“Is that a proposal?”, she asked.
“I suppose so.”, I answered.
“Well then”, she said, “I’m ready.”
I looked at her and smiled. Man how I love this women. It has been suggested that her family has been able to place a curse on me so that I fell hopelessly in love with her, but it really doesn’t matter. We have never been horseback riding together since, but we have shared a lifetime of sadness and joy, happiness and despair, and 5 kids, and have managed to stay grounded and together. I suspect that she is very much like that horse, so long ago. Stubborn, feisty, a little dysfunctional, and I love her.