All of my life I’ve loved horses. I always dreamed of the day that I could ride by myself. Finally that day came. It did not go as I had hoped, but it made me believe that no one should ever give up on themselves.
It was the summer of 2001, when my parents thought I was finally old enough to ride alone. My dad started calling places on a weekend in August. He found several places, but they were all booked for a few days. After a few hours, he found one that had openings that day. He asked me if I wanted to go now to this place, or wait a few a days and go to one of the others. I had been waiting ten years for this and didn’t want to wait a day longer. So we hopped in his car and headed off to El Dorado Springs. It was about an hour away from my house in Westminster, Colorado. When we finally pulled up to the ranch, I was so excited I jumped out of the car. The air smelled pretty bad, but I soon got used to it. There were several horses roaming the ranch and a sweet Border Collie. A guy came out from the stables and greeted us. He asked us how much experience we had riding and told us the difficulty of the trail. He went back into the stables and came out with two horses. One was mine and one was my dad’s. Mine was a Chestnut named Red. He was old and gentle the man explained and that Red would follow the guide’s horse. My dad’s horse was a Grey named Jasmine. She would have to be told where to go, but was also gentle. Our guide helped me on to my horse and then got on his. I was a little worried that the stirrups were too big for me and I couldn’t reach them. My dad and the guide said it would be fine so I threw the thought from my mind. Then we headed out of the ranch and onto the open road.
Not far from the ranch, Red stopped to eat some kind of plant. The guide said it was alfalfa and that it was like candy to the horses. This agitated me because I couldn’t kick Red to make him keep going since my feet weren’t in the stirrups. The guide finally whistled for Red to come after about 5 minutes of my dad yelling at me to kick Red. I tried to tell my dad I couldn’t, but he just kept saying, “Kick him harder.” I was furious at my dad for not listening to me. Red stopped about every ten feet to eat more alfalfa. Finally Red stopped listening to the guide and just stood there eating. I tried to kick him, pull the reins, but nothing. After a bit the guide let out one last sharp whistle, and Red ran forward. He abruptly stopped right before the guide’s horse and I went flying. Before I even knew what happened I hit the ground with a loud thud. Instantly pain surged throughout my body. My dad and the guide ran over quickly. The guide looked me over and said nothing was broken that I may have a few sprains but nothing major. The last thing I wanted to do was get back on the horse.
The guide hopped back on his horse as I started to panic. My dad looked at me, “You ready?” he asked. I shook my head. “There is no other way back,” he said and I could hear irritation in his voice. “Why can’t I just turn around and walk back?” I replied. “No, now let’s go!” He was loosing his patience with me. We argued like these for at least another ten minutes before I finally gave in and got back on my horse. My dad jumped back on his and we were off again. My head was killing me and I soon realized that my sight was getting fuzzy. I figured my dad would just think it was an excuse to stop again and not listen to me, so I didn’t tell him. It got so bad at one point that I couldn’t see anything (I later found out this meant I had a minor concussion), but I still stayed quiet. By the time we got back to the ranch my sight was back to normal, but I was also sure that I was never getting on a horse again.
The following day a doctor checked me over. He said I had sprained my left wrist, my hip, and my tailbone. The doctor also told me I was going to have several bruises for awhile. In reality, it took my body months to return to normal. During these months of therapy everyone involved kept telling me that I needed to get back in the saddle again.
Fours years went by and I was starting to consider getting back on a horse. I still loved horses and realized that all I was doing by not getting on one again was hurting myself. I knew I was taller so the stirrups wouldn’t be a problem and I was stronger so I could control the horse better. I decided that the summer of 2005 would be the perfect time to try. In July, my dad called around again, but this time asked more questions about safety. We found a stable and soon headed up there. This time when I got out of the car I saw a much nicer ranch. Everything was better taken care of than at the Ranch in El Dorado Springs. The horses were already set to go and the guide was waiting. One of the first things she did was made sure I would be able to reach the stirrups. After that we were on our way. I had a lot of fun on the ride and I didn’t get thrown off. In the end, I was happy I hadn’t given up.
My horseback riding accident taught me a valuable lesson that applies to many things in life. I believe that no one should ever give up on themselves. If you simply quit trying when life gets tough, you’ll never know what could have happened.