My first time in the saddle took place when I was twelve and a friend invited me to ride his horse. I thought about Roy Rogers’ Trigger and the Lone Ranger’s Silver: loyal intelligent horses; partners and sidekicks to their riders; understanding and obeying spoken commands. This horse wasn’t anything like that: when I wanted to go left, he went right; when I wanted to stop, he would go and when I wanted to go, he stopped. In fact, a sudden stop propelled me over his head and onto a paved road. After that experience I decided to stay away from horses—until a friend insisted that I go riding.
Vacationing in the mountains of North Georgia we were joined by a friend and his significant other. She was a stunning girl, much younger than my buddy and not content to sit still and watch the sun set over the mountain.
The first evening of their visit, she insisted on going dancing. With the nearest dancing venue miles from our rented home, I initially said no. However, after an hour of listening to her whine and having consumed a fair amount of wine, I told her to get dressed—we were all going out.
More of a “juke” than a bar, I took them to a place located in a small town at the base of the mountain. When I passed it earlier I noticed a sign announcing live entertainment and I figured “what the heck. It could be fun.” The girlfriend was wearing outfit that would have worked in South Beach or Manhattan—however, in rural North Georgia it was a showstopper: tight leather pants, a matching jacket and spike heels. When she entered the bar there was a sudden dead silence; even the band stopped playing.
We were drinking our first beer, when a mountain of a man, flashed a gap-toothed smile and invited our overdressed friend to dance. After looking at my friend who raised his hands as a sign that he wasn’t going to interfere, she followed the guy onto the dance floor. As they danced, he held her so close she disappeared into his arms; the band was playing a rock and roll song but he was dancing to a North Georgia waltz.
When the music ended, she disentangled herself from her dance partner, turned and as she walked by our table, grabbed my friend by his collar and drug him to the door. I threw $20 on the table and as we followed them out, listened to the loud laughter, hoots, hollers and somewhat rude comments that accompanied our departure.
My experience at the local juke convinced me that this was a girl who was accustomed to getting her way. So, when she said she wanted to go horseback riding without argument I agreed.
Of course, she was an expert horsewoman and volunteered to select our mounts and instruct us on riding them.
With her middle sagging between her front and hindquarters, the horse she picked for me reminded me of a hammock. Recalling my one experience with a horse, I asked the beautiful equestrian what to do if the horse didn’t obey my commands; she responded I should lean forward and bite the horse’s ear to get its attention.
We had been on the trail for about an hour when the horse decided to turn around and go home. When I pulled on the reins, the mare would stop, refuse my efforts to redirect her and begin her trek back to the barn. I was leaning far forward when our horse-lady friend rode up beside me and asked what I was doing. When I replied, “I’m doing what you told me to—trying to bite this dumb animal’s ear.” She turned white and yelled “No! I was just kidding! You might get killed you if you do.”
We headed back to the barn and I pledged to never again ride an animal that had a mind of its own.
Like horses, people have minds of their own. Like the horse deciding it was time to go back to the barn, people do what they believe is their own self-interest. Because it is the most difficult, In any relationship or plan, the human element must receive the most attention.
“No man will work for your interests unless they are his.” – David Seabury