Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Childhood Memory with a Four Legged Friend

     I have fond memories of my childhood, when I first had the experience of horseback riding. It was on a warm summer afternoon. I remember being filled with excitement as I saw the horse's strong, muscular stature and his quick, majestic stride. His white body, splattered with black polka dots, was robust. When I saw him, I was pleased to meet him and I shouted with glee.
    Twenty four years later, I found myself sitting in class, reminiscing about my first experience riding a horse. My classmate, who sat near me, reminded me about the first time I saw that horse. The conversation was a strange and peculiar one, but I welcomed it gladly.
    His name is one of the things I remember very clearly. It struck me as extremely unusual; his name was Zerap. His mane was jet black and stretched on for what seemed to be miles. His eyes were filled with tenderness and friendship. His ears perked up, listening intently to my voice. He was wearing a brown leather saddle and his bridle tightly gripped his teeth. His manner had an air of confidence and he was undoubtedly going to keep me safe. He moved, trotting slowly, picking up his smoothly polished hooves, with a straight forward pace.
    When I rode Zerap, I felt freedom. Constantly. Jody, my instructor used to guide me and encourage me to sit up straight and hold my head high when horseback riding. I listened eagerly to her instructions, paying close attention to every word that she spoke to me. Even though it was therapeutic, it was a very enjoyable experience for me and from ages seven to twelve I had no inhibitions with this animal.

Exploring life on horseback gave me a uniquely profound perspective - and this feeling stayed with me for a long time after. This place seemed to be one of serenity and healing for us with disabilities - determined, empowered, care free, peaceful, adventurous, exhilarated, accomplished, renewed - were all words describing my feelings at the time. Each time I mounted my horse, I felt the warmth of the small of his back against my legs, and the smell of the sweaty horse mixed with dust wafted up into my nostrils and I found myself loving every moment of it and wanting to come back again and again.

    The corral was circular and small, only large enough to fit a few other riders at a time. The noises of nature hummed in the background. My sturdy hiking boots were held securely in the stirrups. I could smell the strong stench of the ranch. Occasionally, I noticed my family observing my journey. This event occurred up in Barnhartvale, close to Kamloops, at a place called Robins Run. I rode there several times throughout my early childhood, and will always have treasured memories of that place that will last me many years.

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