Trading Down

I grew up on horseback. It's what I tell everyone, because it's pretty much the truth. I got my first pony when I was 5, and didn't come out of the stable until my husband drug me away after our wedding. I kid you not, I spent more time with my horse than I did with Sam while we dated. Ask him, he'll confirm it. I'm shocked that I'm not bowlegged. I rode all the time. Every day after school, I'd rush through my homework, do my chores (animals always need fed on a farm), and then it was my time to relax on the back of my beloved pony. Weekends were reserved for exploring the surrounding woods and back roads. One of our favorite rides was to a teeny little store an hour's ride from home (don't get excited - it clocks about 3 miles on the car) just to buy a soda from the vending machine out front. And then, because we all rode bareback and were visibly soaked with horse sweat anywhere our backside and legs were in contact with the horse, we stood around and argued for 5 minutes about who would be the brave one to actually walk up and do the vending.

In hind sight, I cannot believe we didn't just ride the horse right up to the soda machine and get what we were there for. I mean, we practiced that kind of stuff diligently so that we'd do well at the shows we sought out on weekends. In hindsight, we weren't the brightest bulbs around.

I've missed my horse on occasion in the 20 years since we've been married. (They say you never forget your first love.) I miss the freedom it gave me. I miss the fact that it was both a destresser from a bad day and the icing on the cake of a good day. I miss that I could spend time enjoying being outdoors doing something I absolutely loved. I bought a horse a few years ago and was giddy with the excitement of renewed passions, but a decade or two changes things. A horse is only as good as the time you put into it, and when you've got a whopping one hour per week to train it to your liking, it's not going to be liked very well. And it wasn't. After three years I realized that I dreaded riding because it was always a struggle of wills. The horse wanted her way and I wanted mine, and we both found ourselves back at the barn very unhappy with each other. SO not fun.

And then last summer I dusted off my bike and found what I was looking for. Who knew? The freedom to escape from the stresses of life for a while, or a reward at the end of a wonderful day. It's time spent enjoying the great outdoors, doing something I love. And bonus - it's fabulous exercise for a middle aged mom! (I know you're shocked that I'm middle aged. It shocks me to hear it, too. But age doesn't lie very well, so I know it's true.)

Even when we get caught in a torrential downpour, I can't seem to wipe the happy grin from my face while biking. But even the rain isn't a damper; there's a rainbow if you look.

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