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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The fine line between anticipation and dread

So, this weekend I am going camping with my oldest daughter's Girl Scout troop.

Last time they camped we went to the Outer Banks. I was really excited about that trip. We are still fairly new to the state, and we were going to tour a famous lighthouse, go horseback riding on the beach. Plus, we were sleeping in cabins rather than tents. Bonus points!

You could say that this trip was highly anticipated.

Mostly the trip went well. We did this...

and this...

and this...

These things were all fun, and I have wonderful memories.

We also did this!

I was most excited about the ride on the beach. The scenery was supposed to be stunning. The weather was nothing short of impeccable. The horses were spirited, which I think is fun. In my opinion, you need a dash of challenge or things progress into the realm of boring very quickly.

The ride started out well. Everything was as wonderful as I had imagined it would be. The area where we rode is not accessible by car and, even by horse, it took about an hour to get to the beach. But when we finally made it through the dunes the views were absolutely indescribable. The sky was a brilliant blue and the beach was pristine. It seemed untouched.

I was literally having the time of my life, so when the guides asked if we wanted to let the horses "loose" I was fine with it. We had walked and trotted most of the way, and the thought of the extra adventure was invigorating. The guides explained that the horses were not trail horses, and would do what we asked. If we wanted to gallop fine. If we felt uncomfortable we were welcome to continue at our current pace.

I have some experience with horses, but not much. I was curious to ride at a faster gait, but uncertain what to expect. All I can say is, THANK GOD I AM STILL ALIVE.

The moment we were given our freedom everything went wrong. One of the girls in the rear of the group was riding a pony. I have no idea exactly what happened back there. All I do know is that her pony decided that it was running the Kentucky Derby and blasted through the group at full throttle. I'm uncertain if that spooked the other horses or if they just thought it was a race, but all of the horses, mine included, went from a dead halt to a frenzied dash without warning. I held my own for about 20 seconds of this bedlam before I was yelling WHOA, and yanking back on the reins for all I was worth. The horse's eyes bulged a bit as a result of all my yanking and pulling and screaming, but he was otherwise unresponsive. My horse was in it to win it.

At this point I was screaming like a banshee, flying along the beach at break neck speed, and gaining on the evil pony that started this whole mess. I was also pretty sure I was going to either fall off the horse, or get a black eye. Forget about protective helmets! When riding uncontrollable horses on the beach it is always a good idea to wear a very, sturdy bra.

In a fit of desperation I dropped the reins, grabbed hold of the saddle horn and the horse's mane, closed my eyes, and held on for dear life. Fortunately, one of the guides finally caught the demon-pony and grabbed the reins from the rider. The demon pony stopped, and miraculously, so did the rest of the horses. The rest of the ride was uneventful. Except my butt was so sore that for the next two days it took every ounce of will power I possessed to force my stiff and bruised muscles into a sitting position. And did I mention that walking with my legs together was basically impossible?

When we returned from the trip and pulled into the driveway my husband and my other three daughters were waiting out front to greet us. They were excited to welcome us home and hear of our adventures. You should have seen the ear-to-ear grin on my husband's face as I struggled to pull myself out of the car and coerce my muscles into a semi-straight semblance of normalcy. I would have throttled him if I could have mustered up the coordination.

So this Friday we are off on another adventure, and I now truly understand that the line between anticipation and dread is a fine line indeed.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Ken said...

She means Gopher, on the ride down the Grand Canyon where my retired racing mule, yes mule, decided to hang back and then race into end of the line at full throttle on a single file path!

:) said...

OOH! I can just picture you flying along the beach. So glad you didn't actually fall!!

happeegrrl said...


Anonymous said...

That is hysterical! This is the first year I am co-leading my daughter's Brownie troop and I tremble whenever anyone suggests taking them horseback riding. Your posts make me laugh!