I’ve always told people and have firmly believed that you should always go trail riding with someone else. You never know what’s going to happen and if someone is with you they’ve got your back if things go sideways.
I’m not sure when my view started to change or what caused it. Maybe it’s the fact we have cell phones and can call for help, maybe it’s because I’ve been craving being alone with my horses with nothing to distract me, or maybe it’s just time to face my fears.
Every time I’ve been out on a trail ride lately I’ve wanted to do more. I’ve wanted to explore a new trail, I’ve wanted to pick up a trot or canter, I’ve wanted to stay longer, I’ve wanted to stop and have a snack with my horse and rest. It’s really hard to do any of the extra “things” when I am with a group of people, even harder when I am the “one in charge.” So today I decided to go out on my own. Explore a few trails, pack a snack for myself, and bring a halter and lead rope so my horse can have a snack with me.
I started planning yesterday, secretively, because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by going off by myself. Sometimes people don’t understand my desire to be alone. I know I’m weird in that regard, without my alone time I cannot function very well. Groups of people, while I enjoy them, make me feel very tired and I often have to go off by myself to recharge my batteries. Being with horses also helps me recharge, a solo trail ride may just be what the doctor ordered! I’ve been feeling really punky lately and am not sure if it’s mental, physical, or a combination of both.
I let Kim and Danielle know what I was doing today, the route I had planned, and shared my location with them through my cell phone. This morning I fed Nora, loaded her up in the horse trailer and we set out on our journey. As I drove down the road my stomach clenched in fear, “what am I doing? What if I fall off? What if I get hurt? What if Nora gets hurt?” I almost went around the block to go home. Then I thought, “ Is this how I’m going to live from now on? Fearful to do anything on my own? Fearful to try?” I found myself praying and asking God to stay with me, took several deep and cleansing breaths and kept going, knowing that God has me no matter what. If I died on the trail today at least He would be waiting for me and I was doing something I love to do. Can you ask for a better way to go? Then I laughed to myself at how morbid my thoughts were getting. I’m not going to die out there. I’m going to live!
Crow-Hassen Park isn’t far at all and we were there In 20 minutes. I was excited when I arrived because only one trailer was there and my favorite parking spot was wide open! I unloaded Nora, and my phone rang. It was my mom on FaceTime. We always talk on Saturday mornings and I blew her off. Uh oh, oops. I answered and she saw where we are. We talked while I groomed and tacked up Nora. Now I had another person who would make sure I would be safe out there, and what a great way to start my ride! It was nice to talk to mom right before I mounted up. Made me feel safe and secure and by talking to her my doubt was gone and I was actually looking forward to my ride!
I closed up the trailer, locked up my truck and Nora and I walked over to the mounting block to begin our ride. The first thing we encountered was a family of cranes. Nora just gave them a curious glance and we continued on our way. It’s beautiful out there in Crow-Hassen. We started our ride in the prairie and spent most of the time on the open grassland enjoying butterflies and flowers of every color. The birds were singing, my saddle was squeaking, Nora was stepping out at a nice steady rhythm and there was a gentle breeze. The skies we’re such a beautiful blue I could hardly take it all in. My soul drank deeply of the beauty. I could sense Nora sending a connection up to me with her essence and it all brought tears to my eyes. I thought about a trot and she followed me into it. Her head sweeping a little from side to side and her beautiful ears flicking back to me and swiveling to the sides to take it all in. Then her head lifted up, I asked her to soften back to me, she tried but something was up ahead I couldn’t see yet, we decided to walk and soon after, off in the distance we saw a pony and a cart with 4 people. “Oh great, Nora and my first ever solo trail ride and we run into a pony eating contraption.” Nora and I continued to approach, they were stopped and taking pictures. When we got close enough to say hello I told them it was our first solo ride and I was going to go to the right off the trail and get off just in case Nora needed me on the ground. They were so nice and said no problem and stayed where they were as I dismounted. Then as we walked closer we started talking. Nora and I stopped and we had a really nice conversation and discovered we knew each other and were neighbors. By the way, Nora never batted an eye at the pony and buggy and we continued our ride. I was smiling from ear to ear because Nora is pretty amazing. I was very proud of her and feeling pretty good about our partnership.
We continued on and as the area opened up, Nora and I did too. I had a blast asking her to trot and canter. I’ve forgotten how great it feels to canter out in the open like that. No arena to fence us in. Cantering to get somewhere and enjoying the beauty around me without being fearful someone would fall off their horse was mind blowing for me. I could feel Nora’s feet with each stride, my body matching hers, her breath was my breath, her freedom was my freedom and we were two souls enjoying Gods gift of a beautiful earth. It’s been easy to forget the beauty in 2020 but today Nora and I not only got to see the beauty, but we got to feel it, smell it, and after our canter we got to taste it when we stopped for a snack. (Well, Nora got to taste it, she ate the grass, I had a protein bar)
We had more adventures this morning, we saw another pony and buggy, we saw two tiny humans in a buggy being pushed by their father, and we ran into two cowboys that stopped to make sure I was ok since I got off Nora so we could have our snack. The cowboys had some fun stories to tell me. I wish I would have snapped a picture of them. They reminded me of being in Oklahoma with Grandpa and Uncle Ed.
All in all it was a great morning. Going solo allowed me to deepen my relationship with Nora, open my eyes to our beautiful earth, feel God holding me, and meet some really neat people.