The Time I Learned To Fly

December 8, 2010
Why do parents always sign their kids up for very unreasonable things that we don’t want to do without our permission? They do these things because they think they know what is best for us, well, I guess sometimes they do.

“I don’t want to go,” I tell my parents as I close my bedroom door, hoping that they will give me some time to sort my thoughts. But, they are of a different species and don’t take the hint.

“Emily, we signed you up because we think that it will be good for you. Who knows? You might really enjoy it,” my mom continues hopefully. When I don’t respond, she keeps going. “All we are asking is that you just try it.” This time, her words are more forceful and, thankfully, are followed by her loud, mocking footsteps. My dad follows her. Finally, I get time to lay on my bed and think. Why on Earth would they sign me up to ride some random, enormous, wooly animal that could kill me? How is that what is best for me. How is that good? We have a few horses and I love to go outside and pet them and talk to them and hang from their long necks but, ride them? No way! That is just insane! I’ve seen them run through the fields and they can book it. It’s like their long legs could lift them off the ground and above the yellow flowers and help them soar through the wind. Oh, and at rodeos, they just fling people off like they are light as a feather and I weigh half as much as those people do. And, in the past three weeks my older sister, Becca, has been going because she was much more cooperative and she has learned to love it. She says it’s fun and nothing bad could happen because the horses are trained. How was I born into this family of horse lovers? I’m going to bed early to avoid my family. Surprisingly, I can’t get to sleep.

I wake up in the morning to a large breakfast of my favorites, French toast and bacon, and my death sentence. The first lesson is today. I chew the food slowly; I might as well enjoy it while I can. I refuse to talk to them as we get in the truck and drive up our extremely long driveway. What are the odds of this place being right across the street from our house? When we pull into the gravel driveway a man who is slightly overweight with curly red hair meets us. He introduces himself as Rick and leads us into the back yard. I’d pictured a huge ranch with hundreds of horses and big shiny barns. I was disappointed again when I saw about 15 horses and one really old dirty barn. A tough looking woman with mahogany hair comes out of the barn to greet us. She says a simple hello to my parents and sister and squats in front of me. “Hi, I’m Wanda,” she says and shakes my hand. She seems pretty nice.

“I’m Emily.”

“I thought so.” I see Rick walk by with a bay the size of King Kong and silently hope I don’t have to ride it. As he ties it to a trailer beside the barn, Becca hustles toward it and gets some brushes out of a box. Thank goodness! Wanda motions for me to follow her into the barn and starts writing something on the calendar on the wall in the tack room.

“You can go talk to your sister while I get your horse ready so you don’t make me any later than I already am,” she mumbles in a bored tone. So much for being nice enough. I guess she just acts nice in front of my parents. I rush out of the barn and sit on the trailer on the opposite side of my sister. After a few minutes Rick comes out of the barn with a saddle for my sister’s horse. A little while after that, Wanda emerges from the barn leading a short, cute pony. He has a glossy, light brown coat and a long, wavy mane and tail. For a brief moment I think that this won’t be too bad because this little animal doesn’t look anywhere near as harmless as the beast Becca has to ride. “What’s his name?” I ask.

“Buddy,” she mumbles as she boosts me into the saddle. That is a relaxing name. Maybe this really won’t be so bad. When Buddy starts walking, it is a completely different story. It’s like one of those rough, wooden roller coasters, bouncing up and down and from side to side. As I’m clinging to the saddle horn and I think Wanda finally notices my problem because she says “When you get on the smooth sand in the arena, it won’t be as bad.”

Once we finally turn around the corner of her house into her brown front yard I realize why she was practicing her goody act. My parents are standing on the left side of the arena gate. Somehow, I had never noticed how nicely the arena looks compared to the rest of her dead yard. Thick, fluffy sand that is a deep orange-brown color covers the arena floor. It matches with a rusty, red gate and the dark brown, wooden fencing. It all blends together with the gold, brown, red and orange leaves on the far side of the fence to form perfect autumn scenery like the ones in calendars. As I’m still lost in the beauty of it all, Wanda opens the gate and Buddy follows B.C, Becca’s horse, in. The former bouncing has been reduced but, not by much. Once I am doing better and finally getting more accustomed to the lighter bouncing inside the arena, Wanda asks us to trot. Hesitantly, I squeeze my legs like she told me to do and off we go. This is the worst bouncing so far! I’m almost positive my parents were completely wrong because I hate this! My butt hurts and I’m sure that it is black and blue, a small, blue truck flies by and startles Buddy. Suddenly, the pony is going a lot faster but, instead of getting more bumpy like I had expected, it is graceful and smooth. We just glide around the arena, passing B.C, until I pull back on the reins and ask him to stop. It was so amazing, I had actually been flying. “What was that?” I stutter. Somehow Wanda is right beside me.

“You were loping,” is all she said.

That was one of the most scary and most wonderful time of my life so far. The worst part of all was that my parents were right and even though I will never admit it, I am extremely thankful. And I loved to ride then, I love to ride, now, and I will love to ride for the remainder of my life. I guess that if you look past the rough, bumpy surface of something, anything is possible, even flying.

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