This Sunday I had the privilege of riding a horse at my friend’s grandfather’s ranch. Though I had sat on horses before as they walked, I had never yet controlled one in my life. The horse I was to ride had a reputation for gentleness and obedience, so I was not a bit intimidated. The only thing that worried me was getting on the horse. For some reason it seemed like a feat of strength. To my delight, I learned that it was actually quite easy. Left foot in the stirrup, left hand with reins and grabbing the saddle horn and that right leg swings up and over like nothing. Then you are on top of the world.
Not really, you are only sitting on a horse, but what a change it makes! I was so surprised by the completely new vantage point I gained. The closest comparison is sitting in a big truck, because you are high off the ground and can see much further around you. But being on the horse gives you a greater range of view because nothing blocks your peripheral vision. It is empowering and freeing.
The perspective is not the only benefit: the horse can walk through difficult areas far more easily and quickly than a human could. Together we ambled through fields of high hay and woods with mud too sticky for tramping through galoshes-clad.
My favorite part of the ride came when I encouraged my horse to go a little faster. We only sped up for a few seconds, but in that brief period I caught a fever for more. The feeling of moving with the horse is stronger when you speed up, the teamwork is more apparent, and, at least for me, there is a sense of deeper communication with the noble animal. Unlike a bicycle, the horse has the power to move and direct itself, but when you ride you sense that you have some part in that.
Thank you, Pacman! I cannot wait to see you again!