Thanks to the company I work for, I have had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and take them horseback riding. Some of them have seen a horse before but never stood next to one. I hear all kinds of stories, funny and scary of past experiences and why people are scared to ride.
One in particular was the story of a woman from India. A smart, accomplished woman, she had become the head of a company, raised children and moved her family to the United States. I enjoyed her very much and to my great delight, she decided she would like to ride a horse while she was visiting the ranch. The only thing is, she was really almost too scared to do it.
I have ridden a camel and I have ridden an elephant but I am scared to ride the horse, she said.
Smaller than both of the animals she had just admit to riding, horses seem to intimidate many people. Maybe we have seen how they buck and rear in the movies or maybe we have heard horror stories of how our friends have gotten hurt while riding. I didn’t ask her why, I just assured her that she would be glad she tried it.
We went to the barn and I let her groom the horse she was going to ride so that she could feel his energy. Spur, the horse I was using, is one of the most gentle and sure-footed horses around. I knew she would be fine.
As we led him to the mounting block and she took a step up, she froze. She looked at me with huge eyes. Are you sure I will be fine?, she asked.
Tell you what we will do, I told her. Let’s get you in the saddle, then I will get on my horse and lead your horse. That way all you have to do is sit up there and enjoy the ride. I will take care of the rest!
She liked that idea.
Up she went, I led her and we talked about the plants she was seeing and the habits of some of the animals that crossed our path. The wildflowers were starting to bloom and before she knew it, she had relaxed and had a smile on her face. She had also relaxed the death grip on the saddle horn.
How are you doing? I asked. I like this horse very much, she said. He seems very nice.
Well, I’ll tell you what, then, I told her. How about I just loop this lead rope around the saddle horn and you take the reins in your hand. I will ride alongside of you and you can learn how to guide him and ask him to stop.
She agreed and so it began…her first lesson.
It may have been her last as well, I have not talked to her since that day. I do know, however, that she was very proud of herself for that 45 minute ride.
She has now ridden an elephant a camel AND a horse.
There is hardly anything better than watching someone go from anxious to proud of themselves.
She was happy… but she made my weekend.