I just read what I wrote in this post, and I decided it was more back story than story, so I’m revising it to give the gist of the back story for context.
I galloped a horse once when I wasn’t supposed to. It was the only time I ever galloped a horse and one of the few times I’ve even ridden one. I was 11 years old. Since then I’ve dreamed of galloping across an open field because riding a horse that fast is indescribably cool.
Now here’s the story.
I booked a ride last Monday with an instructor. The session is called a “walk, trot, canter,” which doesn’t include galloping, but a canter is good enough for now given my lack of experience. I didn’t know, however, the extent to which I injured my ankle during my hike the day before. I rolled it while hightailing it through that sand, but it didn’t hurt so I thought nothing of it.
Ankles are pretty important in horse riding. They’re attached to your feet, which sit in the stirrups and help you keep your balance so you don’t fall off the horse. It wasn’t until the trot that I realized my right ankle wasn’t working properly. We walked, then trotted, then walked, and so on. I was deeply disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to run, and I think our horses sensed that running was no longer in the plan. They were antsy.
The horses that the instructor and I were riding were bred for speed, and these two particular horses were competitive. When it came down to it, they cared not as much for the riders as they did for which one of them could outrun the other. I had to stay behind my instructor to keep my horse from racing hers.
We reached the base of a steep hill that we had to walk up. My horse, itching to run, found that hill to be a great opportunity to do so. I get it. When I walk along and hit a steep incline, I run up the incline. So up we went, fast. Even better, my ankle felt no pain, which gave my instructor and me the idea that a canter would work out just fine. Up until then the fastest I got was a trot, and trots are brutally bouncy and uncomfortable. Canters, not at all.
My horse followed nicely behind hers as we sped up. He then darted around to the side of the other horse and, as if to tease it, sped past. My ankle chose that moment to give out; my foot slid out of the stirrup and my body slid off the right side of the saddle. I grabbed hold of my horse’s neck, hugging it tightly with the reins still in my left hand, one leg wrapped around his underbelly and the other over the saddle. My body clung for life as this lovely creature chased after victory. I pulled as well as I could on the reins with my one hand, not nearly hard enough, screaming who knows what, and for whatever reason he came to a nice slow stop. I just hung there. Clung there. Laughing hysterically.
It seems Ransom and I have something in common.
Though he didn’t reach a gallop, the run did come with a bonus. My leg muscles still haven’t recovered from holding my body onto the side of that horse, but putting them through that strain was worth every crippling pain I feel. And not necessarily because holding on so tightly kept me from hitting the ground at a high rate of speed. I mean, how often does a person get to ride the side of a horse?
When my ankle heals I’m going to gallop across that field, which they’ll let me do when I’m ready. Something tells me that if I get Ransom again that’ll happen either way. I’ll request him, of course.
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I told my mom what happened and she told me about a time when she was little, when she and her friends were galloping their horses bareback (she grew up in the country and raised a horse). My mom said they got the giggles and she lost her balance. She grabbed onto her horse’s neck with all fours and held on upside down as the horse kept running. The horse eventually came to a stop and she flew to the ground, unharmed and laughing uncontrollably. Like mother, like daughter, I guess.
She also said that galloping is the greatest thrill there is. Besides jumping out of a plane, I have to agree.
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If you aren’t familiar with what it’s like to gallop, check out this GoPro video. A canter starts around 0:50, and the gallop follows.
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I’m not sure what’s up next or when. Hopefully something wonderful and hopefully soon. But no worries. Not knowing what’s to come is the nature of a true adventure.