All girls love horses!
Do they really?
I guess I’m just not like all the other girls.
My birthday is right around the corner, and I’ve been thinking about one exceptionally unforgettable birthday.
Not exactly fond memories, per se, but memories nonetheless.
I’ve affectionately come to call it The Horse Adventure from Hell.
My husband, DJ, wanted to do something nice…
Something unintentionally death-defying…
Now, let me just say this:
Despite being a vegetarian, I’m interestingly enough not really an “animal person”.
Horse-sized dogs terrify me.
Dead skunks and armadillos don’t look so cuddly.
Cows and their babies are kind of cute, though.
Everything else, I’m clueless about.
Hell, my family couldn’t even handle taking care of half a dozen pet fish.
Every time we’d look over, another sucker would float lifelessly to the top of the tank.
Well, whenever they weren’t busy inbreeding, anyway.
But back to horseback riding.
Actual proclamations from the stable’s website:
“The view is spectacular!”
“Everything always looks peaceful and natural from the saddle of a horse!”
“Our trail rides are great for reducing stress and creating peace of mind!”
More like great for inducing enough terror to drastically reduce one’s lifespan.
But hey, I’m sure it’s all relative.
At any rate, we soon found ourselves climbing to the top of a 9,000-foot mountain in the Coconino National Forest in Arizona on a 3-hour scenic tour.
Scenic being some sort of deranged code word for “direct path off a freakishly high mountain, straight to your death”.
In retrospect, this was probably not the wisest choice for a novice.
I had never ridden a horse before, nor had I any particular inclination to do so.
But I am all for trying new things.
And since we like getting the most bang for our buck, we opted for the best value-
The longest ride option available.
Upon our arrival, we were introduced to our guide.
She couldn’t have been older than 16.
And for the life of me, I can’t recall her name.
So let’s call her Philippa, the Greek word for “friend of horses”.
Seems appropriate enough.
I was assigned a lovely white horse named Princess.
DJ received a brown one called Spirit.
Knowing absolutely nothing about horses, I figured they both looked mild enough.
But just five minutes into the experience, I was fully convinced these horses were trying to kill us.
Or just me, at any rate.
DJ somehow seemed to be enjoying himself.
The horses kept climbing and climbing.
Up and up and up.
Princess demonstrated a startling pattern:
Climb up, look down.
Climb up, look down.
Slip, slip, slip.
It was a narrow, single track trail, with loose rocks lining every inch.
With each step upward, it felt like she was losing her footing.
My confidence was shaken by this point, but the journey upward continued.
There was nothing even remotely peaceful or relaxing about this experience.
When would it end?
More like nightmare.
Every once in a while, I’d get a bit of a break when we were on a patch of flat surface.
I’d close my eyes briefly and try to enjoy the moment.
For, like, ten seconds.
And then we’d be galloping upward again.
Walking, trotting, cantering, galloping.
The majority of these terms meant nothing to Princess.
She knew only one speed:
Galloping uphill at neck-breaking speed.
But at last, we had made it to the top!
The saddle was killing my gluteus maximus.
My hands throbbed from holding onto the reins for dear life.
But we were still alive!
We dismounted from our horses and tied them to a giant log.
The vista view was indeed breathtaking, overlooking magnificently lush forests.
We marveled at the stunning sight and took a few pictures.
And then break time was over.
Princess was the first horse to be untied from the log, so I climbed back up.
But then the unthinkable happened.
As DJ was about to mount Spirit, all three horses spooked.
The two that were tied to the log pulled back with all their might…
Pinning DJ and Phillipa under the log.
Meanwhile, amidst all the chaos, Princess ran in frantic circles.
Before sprinting right toward the edge of the cliff.
Terrified, I was pretty well resigned to the fact that I was gonna be a goner for my birthday.
After all, nothing says Happy Birthday like the gift of being tossed off a horse from the top of a mountain.
I can’t even begin to remember how I managed to get that horse under control and avoided going off the cliff.
But somehow, we miraculously turned around and headed back toward the other two horses.
DJ eventually lifted himself from the weight of the log.
And then he freed Phillipa.
Her jeans were torn and bloodied.
Tough cowgirl that she was, Phillipa hopped back on her horse like nothing out of the ordinary had just happened and led us back down the mountain.
Slip, slide, slip, slide.
When we reached the safety of flat land again, I could finally breathe.
In fact, going back toward the stable was by far the most enjoyable part of the adventure.
We parted ways with Phillipa after giving her a whopping 50% tip.
You know, for almost killing her.
I’m sure nothing would make her happier than knowing she’ll never in her life have to see us again.
Don’t get me wrong.
Horses look nice enough.
When they are safely inside the stable.
And far, far away from me.
Sure, it could have been a fun adventure…
If somebody else had been on that horse.
Anybody else but me, that is.
As the company’s website proclaims:
“You will remember this horseback riding adventure for a lifetime!”
Oh, if only you knew.
Once in a lifetime may have been one time too many…
But at least I look back now and can laugh.
~Happy Friday! Hope you all have a marvelous Easter!~