Riding has been a part of my identity since I was nine. I gave up ballet lessons for the thrill of riding horses and never looked back. I was fearless. I rode difficult horses who threw me like a rag doll or dragged me through the sand like cans tied to the back of a car. Yet, I always got back on again. Throughout my difficult teen years, riding taught me many life lessons in perseverance, patience, responsibility, and, most importantly, trust.
My childhood dream came true when I was 17 and we bought two horses, built a stable, and set up a pasture. I was in heaven. My sister and I rode down to the river, swam in the river, and galloped through the meadow. Oh how much I miss those days. I miss my sister’s grin as she raced past me. I miss Timbre’s mane flying in my face. I miss Finnegan’s joy as he played in the water.
Real life came knocking at my door when I had to go off to college. Just like any other college student who has to leave their best friend behind, things changed. I did not have anyone riding the horses while I was away so they roamed their pastures getting fat, spoiled, and very naughty. While I did not go far and I came home as much as possible, we never ran through the fields again.
Somewhere along my journey of growing up, I lost all confidence in my ability to ride. Going faster than a walk in an open field terrifies me. Some might say I grew wiser when I stopped galloping through fields, but I feel like a coward. I no longer trust my horses and am always expecting the worse from one of them. I did not suffer a bad fall or injury. Yes I have fallen off my horses a number of times, but getting back up in the saddle is not the problem. It’s leaving the confines of the pasture to ride in an area of no boundaries where anything can happen that paralyzes me.
I have been thinking a lot about growing up and what that means to me. Through all my pondering, I came to the mini-conclusion that I need to re-discover my confidence on horseback. Since I am a rider, I must to embrace that part of my identity again. I want to feel the wind on my face as the world blurs by, to feel the joy bubble up inside me as I land a difficult jump, to feel the infallible trust blossom and flourish between us. It is vital to my being to start riding again, to make the time and to find the courage to face my fears. I hope that, as I start riding again, I will grow the guts to chase my dreams and happiness, to leave the stability of a fenced-in pasture.
So I signed up for real riding lessons. I am putting that money earned from working in a (metaphorical) cave to chase down my fears and start a new chapter in my life.
And maybe, just maybe I will find myself along the way.