the only kind of horse i’ll ride

8 Jun

Quite a few years back, the magazine I worked for sent me out to Colorado to do a story. It happened to fall at the same time as Captain Deb’s spring break from law school, and Nebraska being a mere 8 hour drive from Denver it was quickly decided that she’d come hang out in the Mile High City with me.

Someday when you’re older—and when Captain Deb’s stomach can finally handle it*—I’ll tell you all about the Happy Hour That Was at the hotel bar, which was spurred on by the female bartender who claimed to speak six languages, had just moved to Colorado from Amsterdam, and had been part of the Israeli army. That night’s ending involved a karaoke bar with a trio of casino developers, slushy purple cocktails, outside urination, and harassing an old college friend via cell phone.

We sweated through a visit to Red Rock the next day, and after driving in looping, winding circles around the bases of mountains it was somehow decided that we should go horseback riding. We called a number we’d seen and were told by a cowboy to “Come on down off that mountain,” so we did.

Captain Deb happens to be a very experienced rider.

I am not.

Everything was going well as we plodded along on our horses with about five or six other riders. The pancakes and eggs we’d had earlier at IHOP and the fresh air seemed to be quashing the last remnants of the beer fumes that mingled with the slushy purple cocktails.

And then, for no apparent reason, my horse went apeshit. She took off running, having decided this plodding along bullshit was for the birds, trails were for sissies, and oh! Hey! Look! A stream! Let’s go there.

I frantically semi-flailed about, yelping and trying to slow the horse down, trying to get her to rejoin the group, trying not to fall off my saddle. The woman who was leading the ride just sort of watched me, then pulled another Budweiser out of her saddle bag, shrugged, and popped it open as she and the group just sort of stared at me. Captain Deb, for her part, was doubled over on her horse, cackling.

You know what’s a good way to take your mind off how much you drank the night before? Gallop along on a strong-willed horse with a mind of her own when you have precious little riding experience, and are a control freak who can’t figure out the slightest idea how to soothe an out-of-control situation with one of God’s noble beasts. Or go whale watching. But that’s another story for another time.

That episode didn’t stop me from getting back on a horse again, so to speak. A few years later Captain Deb, Everyone Should Have A Julie, and I went on a morning breakfast ride through trails in Wyoming, on horses that didn’t have strong wills, and we didn’t pass any tempting streams.

But that was it. After that, I decided that horseback riding really just wasn’t my thing. When my family and I were in Hawaii two years ago, my sisters and brother-in-law all went on a horseback ride through the lush landscape of the island. My other brother-in-law and I watched Monday Night Football in the hotel bar.
This weekend, though, this weekend proved a great return for me to horseback riding.

I think I’ve found my niche.

See? I’ve mastered it!

I’ve never felt better about horseback riding.

*I’ve been forbidden to ever tell Captain Deb what exactly she consumed that night.

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