Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course!

My husband and I "met" this lovely steed at a local historic event in rural Maine last summer. Scribner's Mill, to be exact, where local history and customs were being celebrated. Here, "Molly The Hungry Horse" takes time out for a late afternoon snack of hay. She was personable enough to give us a glance, even as we interrupted her meal. I'm taken by the shock of hair in her eyes, her long whiskers, and the morsels of hay protruding from her mouth. Cuteness aside, horses are beautiful and noble animals.

Unfortunately for me, those times in my life when I sat on top of one, were not too pleasant. I remember three experiences in particular. When I was about eight my father took me horseback riding. My steed was the only one who galloped down the steep hill at the end of the trail, straight for the lake! He turned so abruptly at the last minute, that I nearly flew into the water. I was speechless and so grateful to dismount, I probably didn't speak for the rest of the day!

Another time when I had paid for a horseback ride, they gave me a mule instead. I was a teenager and too embarrassed to protest. (Cute guys around, you know...) This stubborn critter walked me into every available low-hanging branch along our trail, so that I spent the entire time ducking and flailing. Now THAT was embarrassing, as were the scratches on my face!

The third time did me in. My husband and I were on our honeymoon, just a 3-day trip to Mount Airy Lodge in Pennsylvania, which we could barely afford in those years. A cold snap had the winter landscape in its icy vice-grip, but we opted for a horseback ride anyway. We needed to get away from the opulent meals and most of all, the chocolate desserts we had been over-consuming.
My horse didn't want to leave the stable and made that known early on, when he stubbornly circled instead of falling into the queue. I help my breath in the icy air as we entered the forest. My apparently fatigued and willful horse fell to his knees on the rocky and root-crossed path and rocked sideways, while I sat perched on his back, my mouth open and my heart jumping out of my chest. Not only was it minus three degrees that day, almost too cold to breathe, but I was SURE my marriage was going to be cut short by my untimely death upon the ice-encrusted rocks of a forest horse path.

Image and text c Lynda Lehmann.

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