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Thundering Hooves This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I am sure that nearly everyone has at least one unforgettable experience. Mine was with a young horse who changed my perspective on horseback riding. The experience took place about a year ago on a quiet Illinois farm; it was one my most thrilling adventures.

My best friend Kathryn and I had barely opened the car door when we scrambled out. Getting the horse ready proved to be quite a chore since first we had to groom her and then tack her up. Grooming was definitely a challenge since she was covered with mud after spending a week at pasture. We tackled the matted fur and tangled mane with superhuman force. Under the filth, we discovered a completely different horse: a beautiful bay Arabian mare named Shawnee River. Grooming seemed to take hours, but once Shawnee's mane was banded and tail brushed clean, the finished product was worth the effort.

If we thought grooming was a chore, tacking Shawnee presented a completely different problem. It was all our aching arms could do to heave the saddle onto the mare's back. We took turns taking slow laps around the arena to stretch out Shawnee's stiff legs. The periodic downpours of rain made it difficult to see and made the mare nervous. Eventually the horse's high-strung steps quieted and she settled into a smooth rhythm.

Then it was time for the big gallop. Shawnee danced with excitement before I asked her to canter. Once her steps were even, I urged her on, and felt her powerful muscles rippling as she built speed. Faster and faster we went until I could no longer hear her thundering hooves. As we passed the middle of the pasture, Shawnee gave it all she had. In between her graceful strides, I felt like I was soaring above the ground on an eagle. She continued to build speed, and before long I couldn't even feel her footfalls; it felt as if we were miles above the ground. Looking down on the small figure of Kathryn, I noticed Shawnee's mane whipping around and the small colored rubber bands outlining the mare's elegant neck. Her flowing mane entwined around my fingers and whipped in my face. I hoped that this journey would never end. As we neared the edge of the lush green pasture, I saw Kathryn waving her arms and cheering. Shawnee and I came to a gradual stop, and I breathlessly handed the reins to Kathryn.

I have since become inseparable from horses. Even though I have ridden other horses, Shawnee River stands out above them all. She taught me to take pleasure in the little things, and turned a simple gallop into something unforgettable.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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