Climbing Back Into the Saddle

At times in life, we all need to forgive. None of us are perfect. No one can live up to high expectations. We all fall off the horse sometimes. And, it’s not that we fall off, it’s that we get back on. And, back on requires forgiveness.

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to take a month-long course in Hunt Seat horseback riding. This is a formalized style of riding where the rider sits with a straight back with hands loosely holding the reins and the feet are turned out. On the second to last day of the course, my teacher had been holding a lead line for control “Just in case”-decided to let me ride Mandy (my horse) untethered.

On this day, she stood in the doorway of the barn blocking Mandy from veering outside. I was trotting along in the barn feeling proud, confident, and autonomous. My instructor says, “Wow, you look really good! I could enter you both into a competition. No one would ever know you’re blind.”

At that exact moment, being too close to the wall, my right foot hit a fire extinguisher and suddenly Mandy was in flat-out gallop mode. There was no stopping her! Hunt seat form be damned, I held on for dear life. Then, just as quickly as we started Mandy stopped. The instructor found me with my arms and legs wrapped tightly around her neck. “You’re okay Gail! You’re okay!”

Sobbing and freaked out, I slowly dismounted. I never, never, never, wanted to ride that horse, or any other horse, again!

My trainer took me and the horse outside to stand in the sunshine to calm all three of us down. “I’m sorry Gail! I never thought that would happen! That fire extinguisher hit Mandy’s back leg, and that’s what scared her! I was so worried about you! I felt so helpless watching Mandy! Thank God she stopped inches in front of the wall. I prayed she wouldn’t fling you over her head and step on you! I’m glad you’re okay! Scared, but okay!”

We chatted and eventually, my heartbeat returned to normal. “I want you to pet and stroke the horse! She needs to know it’s okay too!” With reluctance, I took my hand and placed it on her neck. She soon was nuzzling my hand like nothing ever happened.

“Now Gail, I’m going to ask you to do something I’m sure you’re not going to like. I want you to mount and sit back on Mandy. I’ll help you! You don’t have to ride, but I want you to sit.” Man was that hard. I still was shaking physically and psychologically. I just wanted to go home crawl into bed and stay there forever. Eventually, I was convinced. I remember how good I felt sitting high on Mandy’s back with the sunbathing and soothing both my heart and soul.

I never thought I would, but in that instant, I forgave my instructor. Mandy galloping at redneck speed wasn’t her fault! Even if she’d had the lead line in hand, Mandy would have run out of control! Sometimes, life just happens!

Over the years, here and there, I’ve had the opportunity to ride a horse. The good news is, I’m not afraid. If there’s someone, and there usually is, who has “done you wrong”, put on your big girl/boy pants and forgive. It’ll do your heart good. In forgiving others, your heart is healed. Just like I won’t forget Mandy and my experience in the barn I have forgiven her. I faced my fears, I got on, and I was able to stand in the sunshine and enjoy the feeling of love. I challenge you to forgive, to let go of the rains, to stand tall in your saddle, and gently trot into the sun. In this way, you’ll change the way you see and change the way you live.

Join me this week:
Wednesday, April 3: Speaking, The Blind Elephant in the Room, Changing the Way You See and Relate to Others
Rotary Club of Englewood
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
The Malley Recreation Center
3380 South Lincoln Street; Englewood, CO 80113

Saturday, April 6: Open Mike night
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Colorado Center for the Blind
2233 West Shepherd Ave., Littleton CO 80120

Monday, April 8: Sing-a-long with Gail
8:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Lowry Elementary
8001 E. Cedar Ave., Denver, CO 80230

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