Thursday, April 30, 2009

And They're...Off!!

It's Kentucky Derby time
and it reminds me of my
days on horseback.

One day, to be exact.

One single day of
my entire life that I'll never forget.

You see, horses aren't my thing.
They are too big,
too unpredictable,
too uncomfortable.

But several years ago
on a family vacation to
my husband and kids
decided what fun it would be
to go horseback riding.

Well, if you have ever been the
odd man out,
you know how painful it is
to be the only team member
opposing an apparent
barrel of fun.

When I turned up my nose
at the idea,
I got those awful
"Oh, Mom!" groans
and they ganged up on me
like mice on Velveeta.

Pulling into the horse farm
way up on the misty mountain top
made me wish I had gotten
around to writing my will
before I had left home-
or had at least scrubbed the
toilet good for a final time.

It was as though I was
about to meet my fate.
And he looked very similar
to the Grim Reaper.

The owner tried very hard
to pair me up with the
gentlest horse he had,
but of course, I was also
very worried about what
steed the kids had chosen.

Erin wanted the pretty one,
Bec wanted the fast one,
and Jake wanted the best one.
My husband got the biggest one.

Well, I got the old one.

So old that I wondered if we
were both ready to meet
identical fates.

His name was Bones.

Once they finally got me up
into the saddle,
I looked like one of those
Old Navy mannequins
because I was deathly afraid to move.

We all lined up and set off onto
a wooded mountain trail.

"What's that noise? my husband asked,
following up the rear
on his giant stallion.

"I hear it, too", Jake said.

Then they all heard it.
It was my horse.

It was groaning.

It groaned every time
we climbed a hill
or descended back down.
And each time
Bones let out a
"I'm gonna die" groan,
the kids thought it was hilarious.

I suffered through the ride-
even the part where Becca tried
to get her horse to gallop fast.

And when the trail leader
said the horse up ahead
had been spooked by a snake.

I vaguely remember kissing the ground
when I got off my horse-
the old mare groaning
a sweet goodbye to me
before obviously heading off
to the big glue factory in the sky.

It is sad that the store lost
all our photos from that day.
Because sometimes
my story-
and their story
of the horseback ride
seem so totally different.

Yet, I feel good
that I caved in and gave
my family what they wanted-
a beautiful horseback ride
through the foggy mountain top
of Tennessee-
and Mom on a groaning horse
to laugh about for
the rest of their lives.

Today the smell of manure
and horse breath
and summer dust
and saddle leather
can still give me goose bumps.

And I never watch the Kentucky Derby
without shedding a little tear
for Bones.