Tag Archives: horses

Happy Dog and Pony Show. For Father’s Day.

My father was so tall.  The way he threw back his head to laugh, he could make anything look like fun. I was about four, still in ruffly pants and shiny curls.

There are pictures in an old album of that day.  I think my uncle even had a mustache back then, so dark and swarthy, he looked like a Spanish pirate. In flannel.  With glasses.

I remember their hilarity, they laughed out loud all morning.

I was curious, peeking around corners, watching the construction.  With my little red wagon, horse bridles and buckles, and maybe some duct tape, they built a small buggy and hitched it in on to my uncle’s Doberman. They planned to take me for a wild ride.  It sounded fun.  It looked fun.  And I loved their handsome giggles, dimples showing.

The laughter, I loved, the joy and the silliness of these grown men.

On the other hand, I had always been a little bit afraid of that dog.  She never hurt me, but still. She had a “liver” coat, a color which, to me, was about as appealing as its name.

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And looking down her long sloping snout, all I could see was a swirling vortex of drool and steam and pointy teeth.

The wagon was good, I was used to that.  It was a little bumpy, but sometimes they put a blanket in for a cushion.  I liked it.  The horse bridles were fine.  I hadn’t had the great fall yet at that time, and I loved everything about horses.

But the dog, she and I kept our distance.  She was so hard and sharp all over, and jumpy.

By the time they finished the cart and harness, they were laughing so hard they could hardly stand up, and someone had out a giant camera, a silver box that blinked and caught time.

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They came into the house.  I took one look at that liver-colored dog, the straps and the wagon.  No blanket.  And, just like that, I changed my mind.

I did not want to get in that wagon.  I did not want to put my life in the control of a dog that was, at best, a toothy acquaintance.  I did not trust her.  Too many angles, too little fur.  Suspicious.

I did not want to put myself in the hands of these near hysterical men.  I had seen their exploits and bucking stallions.  My heart pounded.   Mayday, mayday!

As a mother, I now call that feeling “Daddies do it different!”  And I smile brightly and make sure I know the location of the nearest ER, and I send them on their way.  A bandaid here and there is worth an adventure with Dad.  Dads have a way of planning these beautiful disasters that usually turn out alright.  And the kids get tougher.  And the memories are priceless.

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But I didn’t know that then, and I shook my head.  They laughed and said,  “Come on, come on, it’ll be fun!”

“No.” I whispered, a mixture of wanting to, but not, a sick feeling at disappointing them, and fear of the dog, and of bravery at saying what I felt, a tiny voice in a room full of deep and boisterous sound.

My grandmother was there.  She must have agreed with me, because when I whispered “no,” she grabbed me up and hugged me against her plump chest, and said, “This little baby does not have to get in that wagon.  You boys take it right back outside!”

She tucked me next to her and got out a lapful of books.  I felt some relief, but I peeked out from under her soft arms at my uncle and my dad, giving up, disappointed, no more laughing, sighing out loud the way that big boys do.  The last thing I saw was the tail of that liver colored dog walking out the back door.

I was a tiny adventurer who got afraid.  I wanted to do it, but I didn’t.

I wish someone had put a stuffed animal in the wagon to show me it was safe and familiar.  I wish my grandma had said she’d hold my hand and walk next to me if i wanted to try it.  I wish I would have known that a chance to ride in a Doberman-dog-and-pony-cart would not come again.  I wish those men had tried harder with me.  Not just that day, but every day since.

But it’s hard when a child is pushing you away, and the women around them circle to protect.

I think I would have said ok, and I think it would have been crazy fun.  Bumpy, yes.  But, then, Daddies do it different.  Gloves off.  Rub some dirt on it.  Get back on.

It can be hard for moms too, when something looks like a danger to a child, a child they looked death in the face to bring into this world.  Like I always say, if men gave birth, you would never see a baby on a motorcycle.

There is a balance in this child rearing thing.  And it’s a challenge to find that balance when we don’t know how to be a team and the moment takes us by surprise.

If I had a time machine, I’d go back and try it, that dog and pony show.  The wild ride the men had planned, holding on to my grandmother’s hand.

We need the men and women both, in our lives.  It’s important that moms and dads look at each other and know it, that we all look at each other and know it.  And love and respect . And help.  And share.

Fathers are so important.  

Mothers are so important.  

Blessings on all your efforts.  

Thanks for all you do.  

You’ve Got to Get Back On. Nancy Velvet Forever.

So.  It happened like this.

I was about eight years old, madly in love with all horses.  My uncle had a farm, and he let me ride all over his land.

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I could have told you then that bliss smells like horse sweat and pine needles.

But, everybody knows that.

Sunlight streaming through shade trees, a peaceful stallion grazed in the dusty light.

I sat quietly on his back for days, thinking if National Velvet could solve mysteries like Nancy Drew, then that’s who I was.  Nancy Velvet.  Did Nancy Drew like burned marshmallows, I wondered, and glanced over at the field full of cattle sleepwalking in the perfect heat.

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One afternoon, they gave me a different horse.  I was disappointed; the other horse and I, we were best friends.  He was going to miss me bad.

But, a horse is a horse, right?

So, I pulled on my boots and walked out, expecting a day of traipsing through tall grass and butterflies, Queen Anne’s Lace.

When I climbed on the horse, he wasn’t friendly like my uncle’s stallion.  He was jumpy and shaking all over.  I thought when he recognized the advanced level of my horseback riding skills, he would calm down, and we could ride on.

He did not.  Recognize them or calm down.

He bolted.

Until that moment, I thought horses understood me and loved me as much as I loved them.  I thought I was a girl in a book, and the horse would know that.

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He and I had not read the same book.

I screamed.  The world was a blue-green blur, and a fence was rushing straight at us.  At the last minute, the horse jerk-bucked a hard turn to the left, and I flew off his back to the right.

I lay in the brown grass in shock.  I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t see.  My heart was broken.

I didn’t get back on him the way they always say to do after a fall.  I couldn’t lift my right arm, and the only horse available to ride at that moment was the one who had just pitched me across the corral.

I sobbed my way to my grandmother’s porch, where they fed me Kraft cheese singles and cold Pepsi in a metal cup—Arkansas smelling salts.  My mother found my glasses in the grass and brought them to me.  My uncle stood looking at me, mournful.

Someone said weakly, “she should get back on,” and we all looked out at the horse, now, finally, grazing peacefully.  Everyone looked away, and my grandmother brought me another slice of cheese.

I had known fear before that day.  Night terrors, alone in the dark with every evil creature staring red-eyed across the room.  Fear of an adult’s anger, fear of injury in childish games.

But, this was the saddest fear, laced with betrayal.  My shoulder was dislocated.  I couldn’t hold reins or get in the saddle for a long time.

I never really rode again after that.

Until a couple of years ago, my husband took us on a vacation to the Rocky mountains.

He wanted me to have a chance to get back on.  He knew that I had prayed a thousand times for another good ride.

I told the lady, “a three-legged nag, that’s all I can handle.”

She laughed and said, “Oh, you need Daisy.  She’s perfect.”  Daisy was a spotted gray horse, an Appaloosa.  She tossed her head when I walked toward her.  I looked at the guide.  She said, “Just climb on.  She loves this ride.”

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I thought my lungs would explode.

All I could do at first was clench the reins in sweaty fists and pray and pray and pray not to die.  Pray that none of my family would die.

It was a long way down the side of that tight, narrow trail.

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We rode single file through closely spaced pine trees.  The air was thin, and the shade was cold.

I watched Daisy’s feet stumble over rocks and thought I was going to vomit.  Chad looked back at me and smiled.  I smiled.  Gagged.

I could hear in my mind, reassurance, a peaceful sound.  I so wanted to be healed of that moment, such a long time ago.

The trail guide called out, “plan to stop a minute when we come into the clearing.  It’s a lookout point, beautiful!”

When we stepped out of the dark woods, the horse in front of us stopped, and before I said, “whoa,” Daisy stopped behind him.

I bravely took a picture of the back of her head before looking up to see the view.

I breathed in and sat on that old gray mare and cried.  Tears streaming down my face, the sun burning my neck and a cool breeze blowing, I knew blessing.

Snow covered, majestic green and craggy, the Rocky Mountains faded into white clouds.   The wide valleys rolled out like a carpet.  The sky was so blue.  So blue.

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In that moment, I could have told you that the purest bliss, the purest of all, smells like mountain air and horses and freedom.  It smells like redemption.

What do you need to “get back on?”  What old hurts have caused fears that keep you from your fullest life?  What are those old hurts and fears costing you?  What will it cost you if you never face them?  What could open up for you if you do–healing, freedom, joy, something else?

Prayers.  For you to get back on.  Remember Lady the Fearless and her lightning water?  Have a cup.  Heaven’s smelling salts.   And get back on.  

Nancy Velvet forever.

 

 

On Vikings, Horses, and Ladies Done with Waiting.

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I told a friend the name of my new blog.  He looked confused and said, “Why aren’t you calling it ‘The Fearless Lady?'”

I sighed.

“It’s just, I don’t know, forgettable.  Everyday.   And, it sounds like a housekeeping website.”

He nodded and  said, “Oh, I get it.  You’re right.  And,” he gestured, “‘Lady the Fearless.’  That’s, like, yeah, that’s your Viking name.”

My Viking name.  Exactly.  Lady the Fearless.  The Valkyrie on her thundering steed, flying double fisted on a winged horse through this world of kids and dishes and work and life.  Susan of Narnia shooting straight arrows from a homemade bow in leather cuffs and a metal dress.   Alice, waltzing through Wonderland, unashamed and curious, taking no prisoners, dreaming and believing every impossible thing.

And, really, every day?  I don’t usually feel exactly like any of that.

But, I hold those images of Vikings and flying horses and arrows and Wonderland close, as reminders that we are part of another realm and the war taking place in it.

I am often struck by the intensity of the battle we face.  The battle to live this life and to live it well.

And I want to live it well.  I am so done with fear.

Fear says that nothing will ever be good enough.  Fear tells us to stay low, stay quiet, stay small.  Fear laughs in our faces and tells us to never hope or dream or wish.

I am done with fear running my life, telling me just to wait, wait for a better time, a better chance, a better me.  Telling me what chances to take–none.  No chances, never.

Fighting fear may well be the one battle at the root of all the battles we fight.  Even Eve was afraid that God was holding out on her when she bit into that apple, afraid that she was missing out on something good.

This blog is a journey into saying “goodbye” to fear and “hello” to true love and abundant life.  A habit of calling myself by a Viking name, calling myself “Fearless” as a reminder and not as a boast.  Because we need to be reminded of who we are.  We need to be reminded of the battle.  We need reminders of what we can be if we stop waiting and get in the fight.

I think we are all tired of fear, and I think we are all ready for something better.

I think we are ready for a journey to Fearless.

What’s your Viking name?  What words or images help you stay inspired and reminded of the higher calling on your life?  Reminders like this will be a running theme here at Lady the Fearless, so you have time to think about it if you want to comment at a later date.  But if you know it now, please share in the comments below!  You have something to share that will help others.  I know you do, because God put it there.