Life List: Get Back on a Horse

June 7, 2013


There are these terrifying things that happen to you when you’re a kid that you always remember. It’s true what they say, “Time heals all wounds,” but what it doesn’t really explain is that it may heal them, but that doesn’t mean you forget them.

When I was nine I went to sleepaway camp. It was fantastic. It was everything you’d imagine sleepaway camp to be – all activities and staying up late and new friends from far away places like San Antonio and Dallas. (I was nine. These places were another country as far as I was concerned.) And, like any good sleepaway camp in Texas it had a horseback riding program – and I loved it. I loved it right up until I got on a horse no one knew was in heat and she took off running with me on it down the trail we were riding.

This is Ex - and we're headed over to the ring.

I don’t remember much, but I remember terror, trees rushing past, a jump and someone stopping the horse that had somehow run back to the ring. I remember sitting in my cabin and never wanting to ride another horse ever again.

Three years later my family was in Arizona for a vacation and the family we were with had older girls who wanted to go riding. Because I wanted to be cool, I somehow summoned the nerve to do it, but I didn’t love it – and I remember feeling disappointed and a little heartbroken that I couldn’t just “like” it again. I watched as the girls galloped away in front of me – I was too scared to do more than trot. I never rode again.

Time to mount. SO thankful for the mounting blocks.


Panicking as I realize not only how high up I am, but how big and strong Ex is. Seriously paused to consider this.

I’m forty-two now. It’s been thirty years since I last rode and late last year I decided it had been long enough. It didn’t feel hard anymore. I felt like I could pick up the phone, make an appointment to ride a horse and go ride it. I’m an adult, right? I loved horses and horse racing and I just wanted to get back on a horse and prove to myself that I – I don’t know, could do it? Could like it? Something. I just knew it belonged on my Life List and the “why” would make itself known at some point.

I meant to do this last fall, when the weather was crisp and cool. I had these great boots that were just aching to get legitimately dirty and not just look pretty and I was about to pick up that phone and plow right into this goal when my back decided otherwise. Again. This go ’round with these issues has been particularly hard and normal “fixes” aren’t really working. February, March and April have been extraordinarily difficult and painful and I was starting to think this goal, let alone my life as an active person, was going to have to get seriously redefined.

But, I'm up! OMG.

It felt crushing, this phase, completely defeating. It wasn’t just the physical issues. On top of all of that it’s been a season of change, of loss and instability, of questioning everything. The kind of time where you unabashedly need someone to come and rescue you and make it all better – or you really need to figure out how to rescue yourself, but you’re not sure you have the strength to do that.


And so, you pick something. One thing that you can control and you can accomplish that you can put a check mark by and say, “THAT. I did THAT.” Because if you do that, you can do the next thing. And the thing after that. And soon, the Universe might just notice you are doing things and throw you a bone so you can do some other things.

Get back on a horse. Literally and figuratively.


I didn’t care what it would take physically to make this happen – I just knew it had to happen. I stretched and medicated and TENSed the hell out of my back and WILLED IT to just hold itself together for thirty minutes.

And it did. And I did. Check.

We're totally friends now.


I cannot say enough great things about the folks at Sienna Stables, especially my instructor, Laura, who was a saint. She is not only a fantastic, knowledgeable instructor, but because she is a therapeutic instructor as well for kids and folks who are differently abled, she understood some of my physical challenges.


I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the nice folks at Proctor and Gamble as well as Go Mighty who helped to make this happen. When it’s 98 degrees outside and you know you’re going to be in jeans and boots, you get a little cautious about your beauty products, but I am here to tell you that the Cover Girl Clump Crusher Lash Blast mascara that I tried out on this ride held up like a BOSS as did the Secret Clinical Strength deoderant that I may have been even more thankful for.

I am so happy to have participated in their Summer Stunner campaign. Become a Summer Stunner! The Color Tour, featuring complimentary salon services with hot P&G products, will be stopping at a retailer near you. Click here for tour dates and more!


These beautiful images were captured by the amazing and talented Christine Tremoulet, who I adore and who you should totally get to know.

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3 Responses to “Life List: Get Back on a Horse”

  1. G L Says:

    So happy that your back cooperated long enough for you to do this! That’s a very happy smile you have there

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    I love riding! It’s actually one of the few things I do and feel pain free. I guess its the fact that you HAVE to relax into it. Somehow the horse becomes an extension of yourself and it all feels so fluid. I can’t wait to get back to it now that I’m not pregnant!