Moped blogWhen I was young, my family would go camping at the ocean.  Sometimes we would rent mopeds to ride around town and on the beach.  You could go to the rental shop, they would ask if you’d ridden before, give you a quick overview of gas and brakes and then you would climb on, push the start button and off you would go.   While I enjoyed riding the mopeds, it couldn’t hold a candle to the experience of riding one of the rental horses along the beach with the wind blowing in my hair.  I was on top of the world!
As a young women a boyfriend and I decided to take a day trip to the ocean.  Wanting to recreate those joyful memories of youth, I was looking forward to going for a ride on the beach.  When we arrived at the horse rental business, the first question asked by the wrangler was if we were experienced riders.  Wanting to impress my boyfriend, I said yes of course, even though it had been several years since I had been on the Moped blog3back of a horse.  My boyfriend not ever having been on a horse was given a solid bay who looked much like the horses I had ridden in my youth.  However, what was new to me, was that I noticed his scruffy appearance, his shut down, listless demeanor and the lack of life in his eyes.  I wondered if this had been the same condition of the beautifully envisioned horses of my youth?   In contrast, the horse they brought out for me was beautiful!  She was white, held her head high and appeared full of life.  I envisioned myself galloping down the beach on this beautiful white horse with my hair blowing in the wind, and my boyfriend (and everyone else around of course) looking on with awe and envy.  Having everyone look was certainly going to be my experience…but not with awe and envy, but fear as they scattered out of the way ….
We set out up the beach at a leisurely walk and ‘Whitey’ would begin jigging to get moving.  At first it was exhilarating to be back up on a horse, and to show off my riding skills to my boyfriend, but after about 20 minutes I became quite jealous of his ability to sit back and relax and just enjoy the experience on his solid bay.  As we turned to head back to the corral, my boyfriend feeling more comfortable urged Brownie into canter.  ‘Brownie’, now heading for home, was happy to oblige.  ‘Whitey’ it turned out only had one speed toward home…gallop!  My efforts to slow her only turned her into a leaping Lipizzaner! Moped blog4 We continued up the beach turning in bursts and starts, going in uncontrolled circles and bolting forward.  So far everyone had managed to get out of the way, but when we reached a more densely human populated area, I knew I had to somehow get off and lead her to avoid a human collision.  A woman jumping to get out of the way grabbed her red checked towel and waved it toward ‘Whitey’ which caused her to come to a brief stop and I jumped off.  It was then that I noticed the chain strap and old scarring under her chin.  My attitude continued to worsen as we walked the mile or so back to the corral, and as I handed her over to the wrangler he also got a few choice words from me about having such a horse on their rental string and a request for a refund.  His response was to jump on Whitey, spur her into a gallop, then sit back into the saddle and haul back on the reins bringing her to a sliding stop.  I will never forget the look of fear and pain in her eyes.  His parting comment was… “There’s nothing wrong with this horse…I thought you knew how to ride.”  Despite my sadness over the treatment and condition of ‘Brownie’ and ‘Whitey’, a beautiful horse once again taught me a lesson… about the arrogance and pride in my life and what I did not want my relationship with horses to look like.

052In our Horsemanship Program, it’s such a blessing to me to watch as awareness dawns on our clients.  Many come looking for riding lessons, wanting and expecting to get on, ‘push the start button’ and go for a spin.  What they find in our program and with our herd of horses is a whole new dimension… of first building relationships of mutual respect, leadership and trust.

Horses are NOT mopeds… they are living, breathing creatures with emotions and minds of their own, and can so eloquently reflect to us who we are… underneath our skin…if we’re willing to listen.