What my Dad & horses taught me about life

“Dad!!! Daaaaaaad” “he won’t go”
I yelled loud as I could with tears streaming down my face. I was riding my dad’s horse, Trigger, and he had been giving me issues all day. It was hot, wasps and horse flies kept swarming in to sting him, and we’d been riding for a few hours already. If you’ve never ridden horses before, you probably don’t realize the leg pain that comes from being in the saddle, the smell of sweaty leather and poop that’s constantly in your nostrils, and the sudden jolt that nearly sends you flying over the horn of the saddle because a car drove by and it frightened your horse senseless. If you are a rider, then you know just what I’m talking about. Trigger and I were both hot, sticky, and irritated with one another. Trigger was usually my favorite horse, tall, 16 hand palomino Paso Fino with pretty golden-blonde hair and a smooth gait. We’d had Trigger since he was a baby so we were practically brother and sister. This day, I had been pulling at Trigger’s reins and bit, tugging this way and that way, but was met with total resistance by Trigger. After twenty minutes of standing still and fighting with him, I was close to giving up.
“Da-daaaaaaaad” I yell again.
My dad comes trotting over on Magic, my mom’s pony.

“Shelby, Trigger isn’t a motorcycle. He isn’t going to take you from point A to point B just because you’re sitting there. He has a mind of his own. You’ve got to be patient with him.You just got to accept that sometimes you can’t get to where you’re going without meandering a little over here and wandering a little over there. Life is a journey, and Trigger isn’t always going to make a straight line. If you’ll accept that, you may enjoy the ride a little more.”

And I threw Dad my lead rope, and I rode behind Dad to the shed stifling hot, frustrated tears.
Those simple childhood lessons are the ones we forget. We leave those lessons  behind us along with our youth. We’ve grown older, grown smarter, and don’t have time for the childhood lessons anymore.

Like always saying Please and Thank-You.
Eating our fruits and vegetables.
Telling the truth.

So I suppose that when I was near to breaking down on a hot, humid summer day, irritated at my horse for not doing what I wanted him to do, and frustrated with my dad for not saving me sooner…It’s this type of lesson I’ve long since forgotten.

Until the day Kevin and I were getting married.

When I was younger my mom required back surgery, and unfortunately this meant her horseback riding career was over. Dad researched and bought miniature horses so my momma could still ride horses just like the rest of us. Miniature horses pulled little wagon style carts around. They were just a little smaller and jolted your body a little less, which was ideal for someone who just had back surgery. It may have seemed silly, but Dad had a little Laura Ingalls wagon made, and momma would go wheeling around our little farm with her mini horses. It was always fun helping put the harnesses on and driving the wagon around like we lived during the 1800s. We all really loved it.

Now, the farm we were planning our wedding ceremony at had four pretty miniature horses.
So of course, the first time my parents and I visit this farm together, my mom and dad notice the mini horses in the back paddocks.
They look at me, grinning, and I totally know what they are thinking.
They ask the owner if we can use the horses in the wedding.

“you know, Shelby… instead of walking down the aisle…. We could ride.

And it was settled then. It was such a perfect thing for us, finding a new Laura Ingalls cart, getting new harnesses, and practicing with the little mini. We practiced with the little Miniature horse, Shotsie, for a few weeks before the wedding.
She pulled me in the rain, in the barn, with plenty of people around. We rode her around and around, until we felt sure she could do the job on the big day.
And when the big day finally came, Dad gives me a hand up into the pretty cart, me in my pretty dress, and he giddy-ups with the reins for Shotsie to pull the cart forward.
And Shotsie just freaks out. She’s swaying, neighing, backing up, and bucking. Dad looks at me, and hops down out of the cart. Ok, OK. We’ll just lead her down. But try as we might she just wouldn’t budge. She was not pulling that cart down the aisle, not if her pudgy little legs could help it.
And it’s there, Dad in his perfectly tailored suit, while I’m sitting in my fairytale dress with my Fiance waiting down the aisle, and hundreds of eyes peering at us, wondering what could possibly be going on…
It’s then I remember.
“You know Dad, sometimes life is a journey. You don’t always get from Point A to Point B like you think”– I choke out the words, half smiling, half crying.
And Dad gives me that little grin… “You know, maybe we’ll just walk down together.”
And so we tie the little stubborn Shotsie to the fence, and I hop out, and take his hand.

dad and cart

The happiest of moments come to us when we realize that life is a meandering journey, not always a straight line from Point A to Point B. Accepting this takes courage, but accepting it brings real joy.
The kind of joy that finds you in a wedding dress holding your Dad’s hand, the man who taught you all those valuable childhood lessons, and ready to take the hand of a new man, one with whom you covenant to walk with through life’s journey.

Have courage to accept the journey, the wonderings, the meanderings, and the pitstops along the way. Those are the places, those are the people, who have the potential to bring us real, wonderful, splendid- JOY.  

dad and walking to meme and dad

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