“If you fall off, you have to walk back. You better hold on.”
My then-seven-year-old self looked warily at the rural Arizona landscape; all of the sagebrush and cacti and sky looked the same.
The family friend we called Uncle Tony lifted me onto a Western saddle that was too big onto a sorrel mare whose back seemed awfully far from the ground. I had no stirrups, no hold, and no fear. Until that mare decided to bolt and then I felt a new sort of fear—one shot through with exhilaration. (I also thought that mare might’ve been mad at me because I had been given her baby as a gift.). Just hold on just hold on just hold on!
When she’d had enough of our countryside tour, she headed back to the barn, with me still clutching on. And in love.
It has taken me over thirty years to get back to horses. But I am now kept company by Peso, mi compañero, sweet and soft-eyed Emma, who arrived just as Angel left this life, and kindhearted and sassy Faith, whose gallop takes my breath away. I’m still holding on, occasionally falling off (though not in a sea of sagebrush), and still in love.