I grew up on a horse farm until my parents got divorced around the age of seven or eight.
For a few years of my childhood, I practically lived on the back of a horse, often riding bareback through without any adult supervision. A horse once bolted with me on it, and my father didn’t bother to chase us down. He knew that the horse would eventually come back, and all I needed to do was hold one.
It did, and I did. At a young age, I was becoming quite the cowboy.
Then one day the horses disappeared. I had nothing to ride anymore. My days of hanging onto the backs of horses was over.
I didn’t ride again for a very long time.
Two years ago, Elysha took me horseback riding on our anniversary, and it turns out that riding a horse is a lot like riding a bike. You never lose the ability. I climbed onto the horse fairly easily and instinctively understood how to raise and lower my body to match the motion of the horse.
Elysha came away with a sore butt.
I felt great. It felt almost natural.
A couple week ago my children rode a horse as part of their friend’s birthday party. It was Clara’s second time on the back of a horse and Charlie’s first.
Horseback riding looks a little different from the days when I rode. No helmets or step stools in my time. Just bare heads and a wooden fence to scale to help me climb on.
It’s a lot safer today than in my time. Slightly less fun, perhaps.
Still, I can’t wait to show these photos to my father. Though he gave up horses a few years ago because of his body breaking down, the man spent almost his entire life on and around horses, and he still wears cowboy hat every day.
I think he’ll be happy to see his grandchildren on the back of a horse, if even for a day.
And even if my daughter was less than enthusiastic at first.