It was almost exactly 4 months ago yesterday when our dog "Gracie" ran into my wife while plaaying in the front yard, knocked her unto the ground, breaking her left hip. Gracie is a Great Dane and meant no harm when she ran into Heidi, meaning only to run past her as they played. Just a few short hours later she was in the operating room getting her hip replaced. It was a time that was beyond scary for us. Not knowing what her/our future held at that point, Heidi was seemingly most concerned about riding again. Heck, if she had her way completely, she would have tried getting back up on Jax around Christmas time, but I managed to fend off her over eagerness.
Yesterday the weather was perfect, and everything seemed to say "this is the time". I had gotten her a nice gel/foam seat cushion, a new saddle pad, and we went and got a mounting block. Heidi was excited, yet you could see and sense her nervousness. I made her take Jax to the round pen first. "Get up on him in here, walk him around, and lets see how he responds to you back up in the saddle", I told her. I also made her promise to get off immediately if Jax showed the remotest indication that he would get fresh, or anything like that. She brought Jax around to the mounting block, I held him by the cheeck strap, and Heidi climbed up the steps. With one hand on the horn, and the other hand settling on the pommel, Heidi began to cry. "What's wrong cowgirl?", I said. She looked at me and said, "I don't know. I'm scared to death, and mad. Mad that I'm so **** scared to get up on my own horse! I don't think I've ever been this afraid to get up on a horse! And I don't know why!" I walked around the horses head, grabbed Heidi's hand and gently brought her down from the block. I told her we didn't have to do this today if she didn't feel ready yet. I told her the reason she's so afraid is because she's lost her confidence in Jax.
Falling off now could be the end. "This is your choice", I told her. " But you don't have to make it today. I also told her that Jax has never bucked, never even crow hopped with her on his back. He's never done anything worse than jump sideways when a tractor appeared out of nowhere once. "Jax will do fine. But are you ready to trust him?" She had been working him every day in anticipation of this moment. She got up on him, walked him, turned him, backed him up, spun him slowly, made him side pass, and just sat there for a while. She got down, looked at me, and said, "let's take a short ride cowboy!"
We did. It was short. A mile and a half, maybe two at the most. I had to grab Jax's reins to turn her around. We went back to the barn, and tears of fear became tears of joy.
As I told her best friend last night, "maybe the intelligence is a bit suspect, but if a girls gotta ride, she's gotta ride. And if you know Heidi like I think you do, you know it's gotta happen"! I hope Heidi and I have many many more rides. We're both 54 now, and I am so very proud of, and happy for my wife. Most people our age wouldn't be doing a fraction of what my wife is doing so soon after a hip replacement. But then again, us being horse people...... well, you all understand. I know you do. Enjoy the ride baby! (She's still the hottest girl I've ever seen on a horse!)