Monday, July 20, 2009

How to Find a Smile

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.
~Winston Churchill

I went to bed on Saturday night in a bad mood and I woke up in an even worse mood on Sunday. I was just in a funk.

After four hours of moping around the house, downing coffee, and lounging in my PJs and slippers, I'd had enough. It was time to get motivated! The question then became, what to do.

On a spur of the moment (no pun intended), I opted to take my horse out for a long trail ride. Since I didn't feel particularly conversational, I decided to go this ride alone and not bother any of my horsey friends with my bad mood. I put on my "Life is good" ball cap (given to me by some truly happy people and secretly I hoped the message would somehow absorb into my head by osmosis), quietly hooked up the trailer and loaded my horse, Buttons.

The funny thing about horses is that they feed off our moods. When they sense that we're scared, they get scared. When we're mad, they're agitated, etc. It's an instinctual survival thing for them.

So, yes, my horse was in a bad mood too. When we started the ride, neither of us were in a place to exert any energy. Nice and easy ... no cantering ... no whoopin' it up. Just plodding along nice and easy. That was the intention but with each step our moods improved and before I knew it we were racing through the trees at high speed. I was having a blast. I might have even giggled but ... shhhh ... don't tell anyone. I swear if horses could smile Buttons would have been showin' some teeth in a wide mouthed grin too. We had both found our smiles.

When we got back to the trailer, I stripped off the saddle and let her graze in the meadow. It was such an amazing afternoon and it brought me back to the days of laying on my horses back in the pasture while they grazed. I've never been able to bound onto my horses bareback without some sort of stool, leg up, tree branch, trailer bumper, etc. but the thought hit me and I thought I'd give it a whirl.

I tentatively grabbed her mane, tossed a leg up onto her back, paused (said a little prayer that she wouldn't move while I was essentially doing the vertical splits to get on her), and hopped up.

Yes, folks, I hopped on my horse bareback without assistance. I was so surprised that I almost fell off the other side! I jumped off her and tried it again because I thought that I might have been dreaming but nope, I was able to repeat this behavior three more times. Poor horse must have thought I was crazy to keep jumping off and on her like this but I just couldn't believe what I had done.

Last year, I couldn't get on a SADDLED horse ... and here I was hopping off and on a bareback horse. It wasn't graceful, but hey, I was doing it!

Wow. What a great moment. This was just a little reminder of things that I didn't ever think were possible that are now. Things that I took for granted at one point. I used to see girls hop on bareback and a fleeting thought would hit me "wish I could do that". Now I can.

Thank goodness for strong arms, sun, smiles, horses, and non-scale-victories (NSVs)!


  1. No words... but you know what I think! :-)

  2. That is so amazing! Thank you for sharing that story ... I'm smiling and inspired too!


  3. I LOVE that - it is those little unexpected NSVs that really hit home.

    Well done for even thinking of trying (I don't think I would have done), lol!

  4. Love this post. Aint we blessed to have ponies?

  5. When I think back to riding our horse as a child I always struggled with the hop on and go thing. What an incredible feeling you must have had in accomplishing that!! Thank you for sharing your journey. I hadn't been out to read the posts for a few days and this morning they really hit home. I am funkified right now and I saw a break in the clouds when I read your blog today. Thanks!! I'm off to find my smile! : - }


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