Far, Far Away

By Rose Ann Sinay

Far, Far Away

It was the perfect getaway weekend: husband-free, guilt-free, do what you want to do, no-pressure kind of vacation with a bunch of girl friends. One of the women in our circle owned a cottage on a lake in upper state New York that could sleep as many people as showed up at her door. “Just bring your own pillow and towel,” she’d said.

I read books, ate junk food and sat on the dock with my toes soaking in the water. It was heaven! Friends cooked gourmet meals, some played cards and others chatted loudly. I made the cookies. We all enjoyed.

Too soon, it was time to go home. Our friend, Nancy, decided we needed a last hurrah – something we’d do together. What better than our hostess’s favorite past time…horseback riding!

My heart sank as everyone heartily agreed. But I wouldn’t be the odd (wo)man out. I couldn’t tell them I was terrified of horses – to be the one to cast the slightest shadow on our glorious weekend.

When I was a young girl, I loved the idea of horses. My favorite movie was National Velvet and I longed to own a horse with that special connection only to me. I imagined myself as Velvet Brown racing along the English coastline.

Every year I asked for a horse for Christmas. Of course, it never materialized. But books about horses did: Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, and The Red Pony. I saw every movie and television show that featured the powerful animals galloping around a track, or through a field, or nuzzling a sugar cube from an open hand.

I was fifteen when I realized that all horses were not the mystical creatures I had created in my mind. Up close and personal, I became terrified of the tiniest pony to the tallest stallion and everything in between. It happened in a single outing.

I flashed back to that group of adolescent girls celebrating a sweet sixteen birthday party at a local stable. I was so excited to actually touch the beautiful animal that I had dreamed about for years.

My friends, who already had a smattering of horse sense, quickly chose their steeds and sat waiting for the rest of the group to assemble. I was last in line and was handed the reins to a scruffy, tired-looking nag. She didn’t resemble my fantasy horse in any way. Where was My Friend Flicka?

One of the groomers held the stirrup for my foot and helped me swing into the saddle. “Ever ridden a horse before?” he asked.

I shook my head no.

“Old Paint here will go nice and slow for you.” I thought I heard him chuckle.

Finally ready, each horse followed the next on to the tree-lined trail; all the horses, except mine.

“Let’s go,” I said rocking across her back. But she wouldn’t budge. “Giddy up,” I yelled. Nothing. Paint’s huge lips simply nibbled the tops of puffy dandelions weeds.

I could no longer see the last horse in line as it rounded a curve and into the forest.

“Give her a kick,” a man said as he walked by. “She’s a little cantankerous; she needs a nudge,” he explained when he saw the doubt on my face.

I tentatively poked the horse with the heel of my foot – again, and again. The last kick was a bit sharper than I intended. Paint made a rude sound and threw her head back as far as she could. Her blue veined eyes rolled up to look at me. Her lip curled up exposing her large, yellow teeth. She shook her head so hard I thought I would fall off the saddle. With no one around to help me down, I sat idly on the old nag as she snorted, grazed and allowed flies to hover around her head. For the rest of the half hour session (I’d paid in advance), I swatted those flies.

“How did you get back so soon?” Each of the girls asked as they paraded by me and Paint.

Someone helped me down from my perch. As I turned to walk away I felt a hard thump against my backside as Paint’s ugly teeth tried to grab the wide ruffle of my shirt – coming after me – moving forward for the first time that day.

Terrifying for me, still; but how do I explain this teenage fear of the animal to horse-adoring people?

So, I went with my friends to the nearby stable. I can do this, I chanted to myself. I am not a child. My whole body shook as a horse trainer helped me up into the saddle, once again. This time, the horse (Silk) was beautiful. He was glossy brown with tall, white stockings on his legs and a star on his elegant head. I gripped the reins with dread and pasted a smile on my face.

“Are you okay,” Nancy asked as we started toward the trail. I let my smile reassure her; I couldn’t move my lips to speak. Once again, I was on the last horse but, at least, this one was walking. I tried to calm myself. This wasn’t so bad, I thought, loosening my death-hold on the reins. Just a nice, leisurely stroll through the woods. Suddenly, the horses began to trot. I panicked as the trot turned into a full-fledged gallop. My feet came out of the stirrups, but I hung on, my hands wrapped in Silk’s mane and reins while the rest of my body flopped like a rag doll.

Obviously I survived, but my latest experience did nothing to endear the powerful creatures to me. But it’s okay. Really. The Horse Whisperer, Secretariat, and War Horse will always top my reading list. I can still appreciate their beauty from afar…in a book, on a movie screen, running along the beach…just far, far away.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer typing away in sunny North Carolina. Her articles/stories have been published in The Carolinas Today, The Oddville Press and The Brunswick Beacon.

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11 Responses to “Far, Far Away”

  1. Diane Quackenbush says:

    Another great read!

  2. Colleen Wenthen says:

    What a sport! Good story.

  3. Betsy Bergstrom says:

    Great story, reminded me of when Dale and I went to the dude ranch for the day on our trip out west. I was shocked at how large horses really are up close. Your stories are always so real that we feel we are right next to you.

  4. BJ Hale says:

    Loved it!! Having grown up with horses on our farm, I can totally relate to their different personalities! And writing about your experience made it all very real to me again…

    • Rose Ann says:

      Growing up on a farm is the best way to understand horses…this “one-day” stand is like playing golf once and expecting to win a tournament! Thanks for reading!

  5. Judi Ghattas says:

    I loved it. Sometimes our dreams are far more spectacular when they are only make-believe. How often have we wanted something, only to get it and find out it wasn’t what we thought it would be. Loved reading it Brave!

    • Rose Ann says:

      Thanks, Judi! I still dream of riding a horse along the beach, but maybe that’s for another lifetime.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  6. Janet grillo says:

    Great story!

  7. Loved it as usual. What a good sport you are. Could not agree with you more. Anything bigger then a puppy dog scares me also.

  8. Tammy Rohlf says:

    Can so sympathize with you. I also was taken for a “ride” by a so called docile horse. I was literally left in the dust and needless to say have not been back on horse since.

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