I strained my brain for something to do on my husband’s birthday. While Franklin, NC is a beautiful town (where he’s attending a 3 month course), it’s not a very busy town. We had done just about everything in the area; dinner, movie, tree aboretum, folk art museum, even karaoke where Eddie sang his favorite of all time hit, “North to Alaska” by Johnny Horton. I sang Patsy Cline and we even went for a Loretta and Conway duet, which I think somehow I ended up singing Conway’s part and Eddie ended up singing Loretta’s.
Anyway. The one thing left to do was horse back riding. We loaded ourselves in the car with our flannel, plaid shirts and worst pair of shoes and drove to the Nantahala National Forest. You may think that a Nebraska girl would be a little more outdoor savvy. I’m not. The last time I was on a horse was probably 20 years ago at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. I made sure our guide gave a very specific lesson of the most basic how to’s – go, stop, and turn. I carefully mounted the horse recalling all his instructions.
Once I was on the horse, I almost felt like I knew what I was doing. And then the horse started to move. By himself. Each step my horse took caused me to rock and bounce in my saddle. He knew the trail well enough that I barely needed to control him, but when I went too long without giving him some direction, he would grow lethargic and start walking me into trees and branches (leaving me with a scratch on the side of my face!). Eventually I got the hang of it and me and Luke (my horse) were like 2 peas in a very bouncy pod.
Because trail rides are least popular during the winter months, Eddie and I (and our guide) had the entire trail to ourselves. We had the freedom to trot and ride next to each other rather than in single file like at youth camp. We walked through streams and brooks and allowed our horse to gulp from the sparkling, clear water.
Although the winter months had caused the abundant trees to go bare and the grassy landscape to go brown, the scenery was still breath taking. We rode on the side of cliffs over looking miles of valleys full of trees, streams, and snow. It really was a beautiful ride.
By the time our trail had come to an end, my muscles began to ache. My daily morning run was no comparison to the beating my leg muscles took riding that horse through the bumpy terrain. And long into the next few days, they suffered the consequences of bouncing up and down and contracting in and out to stay steady in the saddle.
After I said goodbye to Luke and thanked our guide, we got in our car and drove back to city life. I flipped on the radio and Eddie and I smiled at the irony as we listened to the song that played by Randy Travis:
“Don't ever sell your saddle
Never owe another man
Watch where you spit on a windy day
Don't use words you don't understand
Find the Lord before you need Him
And never lose your pride
Don't ever sell your saddle
'Cause life's a long, long ride.”