The tears streamed from my eyes and I choked back a sob as emotions swept over me. Vignettes of critical scenes from these past months flicked through my mind. The impact of all that chaos began to melt as I hugged my horse. For the first time in months I could believe I really was alive.
Not willing to stop there I found the strength to sit upright. It was then I realized that my stirrups were way too short. I had forgotten my saddle had been used by someone trying out a horse and that the stirrups had been raised a lot of holes. My position was all wrong, more like sitting in a chair than astride a horse.
I remember looking down at those stirrups wondering again about the fates. This sure was not the proper position to be riding but did I have the energy to remedy it.
I knew I didn't have enough strength to dismount, adjust the stirrups and remount. The question was could I get Dave to do it. We may have owned horses a lot of years but Dave is not a horseman. I didn't know if he could do this or not. Nor did I know if I even had the ability to maintaim my balance while keeping my leg back out of the way but I wouldn't know if I didn't try.
I decided to tell Dave about the problem with my stirrups and go from there. What I got was that blank stare that comes when you speak "horse to people who hear it as some foreign language. That look told me there would be lots of explaining involved in getting assitance from my husband so I opted to ride with the stirrups as they were figuring the ride wasn't going to last long anyway.
By this time Dave was studying me trying to determine if I really had the strength to do this thing. I knew I probably didn't but I refused to be deterred. I had come too far to quit now but I knew if I didn't get myself and my horse into gear quickly I was going to loose my window of opportunity. Dave's belief in my ability was quickly waning.
Just the thought of having to quit at this point made tears well up in my eyes. I am not a crier. During my childhood it was not safe to shed tears in front of anyone nor be seen with evidence of them anywhere so I just did not cry. I was nearly forty before I learned that tears are healthy, useful and really necessary yet I still do not cry. If I do it's not in front of anyone.
The significance of me being on the verge of tears was not lost on my husband. In fact I think it triggered a welling of his causing his head to turn briefly. I took advantage of this momentary weakness and
instructed Dave to turn me loose. I tried to make my voice sound strong, determined. Instead it came out weak, thready. sounding like the pleadings of a small child wanting to ride alone and free for the first time.
My husband hesitated torn between his heart and his head looking at my trembling legs and thinking about those tears but I still argued my case. I convinced him I could handle it even if I wasn't sure myself.
Dave reluctantly dropped the rein and cautiously stepped back still studying me intently. With a weak cluck and an even weaker squeeze of the inside rein I cued my horse to turn and move off.
My horse did not hesitate but he kept an eye on Dave. It was clear he knew he was responsible to the man on the ground as much as to me on his back. This behavior again sent visions of baby sitting horses through my mind.
At first I was offended. How dare he treat me like a small child but then I realized I could feel the horse's movement beneath me. A smile slowly formed on my lips. We were still moving and I was actually upright in the saddle. As the realization sank in the smile was displaced by a tooth eating grin. I wasn't just alive. I was riding my horse.
To be continued..................