70: Two Girls and Their Dream

70: Two Girls and Their Dream

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

Two Girls and Their Dream

It’s a lot like nuts and bolts — if the rider’s nuts, the horse bolts!

~Nicholas Evans

Two little girls had a dream. But my friend Janelle and I were no longer “little girls.” And even though we didn’t live in the same place — she in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and I in neighbouring British Columbia on Vancouver Island — we still had dreams of things we wanted to do together, even if they were the dreams of little girls.

Despite the fact we were thirty-something with four kids between us, half the time we still acted like little girls — not the adults we were “supposed” to be. So when Janelle purchased a chestnut brown quarter horse named Kye and the owner assured her that Kye would be able to ride two people at the same time, I promptly packed up my kids and caught the next flight to Alberta. As the plane lifted off, I knew that we were about to fulfill our childhood dream. We were going to ride astride one horse together through the fields of Stony Plain, Alberta.

When my plane landed at the airport and we hugged in the terminal, with my two boys and her two girls between us, we knew we were going to have the time of our lives.

I arrived that summer’s day to fields dried and charred by the sun. Although this was not the first time my kids had experienced the vastness of the Alberta plains, this was the first time they would be staying overnight with a horse “in residence.” Our kids doubled up and took turns riding the horse, two astride. Kye hardly noticed their combined weights.

After a few days of becoming acquainted with Kye, we left the kids with Janelle’s husband and set out on our adventure. With camera in hand I walked alongside my friend as she rode her horse, our anticipation building.

Finally we stopped. My partner-in-crime looked down at me from her mighty steed and with a glint in her eye said, “This is it!” I grabbed her outstretched hand, and with a swing of my camera and a flick of my hair, I hauled myself up onto the horse.

At that moment, a passing truck of real cowboys stopped to watch. Great! We would have an audience to bear witness to this momentous occasion!

But we barely had time to absorb the moment we longed for when it started. Though Janelle’s blond curls blocked my vision, I quickly realized that I wasn’t seeing the horse’s ears because of his gait — he was trying to buck us off.

With every buck I rose higher and higher. Our audience in the truck must have had quite a view. I wish they had caught it on film and sent it to America’s Funniest Home Videos. I would have liked to have seen us on a bucking bronco!

But there was no time for thoughts of television fame. Janelle didn’t even finish shouting, “He’s goin’ — he’s goin’!” when that poor horse bucked me right off his derriere, the soles of my feet paying homage to the never-ending blue above me.

For a second I lay stunned, looking into the cloudless sky. The once-lush grass was not as soft as I thought. I thanked every God available I was alive, while also promising I would never do anything stupid again if the camera wasn’t broken.

Realizing I wasn’t paralyzed, I bolted upright only to see my dear friend sitting (if you can call it that) sideways on the fiercely galloping horse, her hands in a death grip on the reins. I will always remember the sight of her blond curls bouncing in unison with the horse’s every gallop.

She would later tell me that she hung on for as long as she could. She knew she risked being dragged if she let go and her foot got caught in a stirrup.

She eventually let go, only to fall you-know-what over teakettle, luckily without a foot stuck in the stirrup. Reins and stirrups flying, the horse’s shoed feet mocked us with every gallop as he raced away, the metal shining back at us as if to say “Gotcha!” I ambled over to her and we stared wide-eyed at each other, confused as to what just actually happened.

Unsurprisingly, the cowboys in the truck had fled the scene.

We raced back to Janelle’s house and hurried to gather oats and rope, then set out to find the mighty steed. We did catch him. I figure he must have resigned himself to the fact that he was not to be totally outdone. But he had already had his revenge in throwing us off.

We headed home, two limping women and one healthy horse. Shock set in, but with every sore step, laughter replaced shock. Despite our stupidity, we lived to tell the tale, had bruises to show for it, a limp to match, and were as proud as if we won the rodeo. And we had done it together!

We each “got back on the horse” the next day, but were saddened at our lost dream. We knew it would never become a reality — not with this horse, anyway.

But the experience was not only about riding the horse. It was about dreams shared with my friend. We will forever talk about the day we were thrown off a horse — together. I cherish the thought of us as two old ladies, rocking silently side by side, the clicking of our knitting needles the only sound, fondly remembering the days when we could actually climb up on a horse. And when my friend shifts uncomfortably in her rocker, wondering if that bad hip is a result of her not-so-soft landing, I will look at her and smile at how stupid we were.

So no, the horse never gave us the dream that we wanted, but he gave us a memory that we will never forget.

~Lisa McManus Lange

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