By Betty King
Had I stepped on the scales that morning, the needle would not quite have come to rest on 200 pounds. It would have settled though, way past my prime weight of 120. Cowboy boots were not part of my attire but I had managed to stuff my thighs into a pair of denim jeans.
I rode my three-wheel-motorized scooter over sand and past cacti to the front of the barn; there I waited my next mode of transportation.
My fiftieth birthday had come and gone leaving my memories to rest on a lifetime of ‘I used to,” but not today, today I was going to!
There I sat in the Arizona sun feeling alive. I was letting my mind carry me past the predicament my body found itself. I was 50+, had Multiple Sclerosis and it was January. The sun on my skin and the determination of my will made me feel like I was healthy, it was spring and I was a young girl again.
There he came! He was more hand’s high than I cared to guess. Led by his reins, he pranced toward me. His handler brought him up, around and beside me.
“Now how do I manage this?” I questioned with a smile on my face.
“He’s patient, and gentle.”
“Well, that may be, but he’s way up there and I’m way down here.” I said between laughs.
“Can you stand up?”
“Well, yes, for a bit but that’s not the problem. How do I get my rear end up and on that saddle?”
“Can you put your foot up in the stirrup?”
“Ha ha. No, can’t get my foot up that far off the ground.”
“Well, let me get a ladder.”
“Oh, brother!” the horse whinnied. I’m sure of the words he emitted as he shook his head scattering slobber all over me. “Where’d this green-horn, handicapped, over-weight, city hussy come from? This is going to be a long day!”
I suppose the rings on my fingers and in my ears and the perfume and make-up gave me away. Plus, I’m sure he hadn’t often seen the likes of the three-wheel apparatus I was sitting on.
The cowpoke retrieved a small stepladder from some far corner of somewhere and placed it beside the poor horse as he stood there in wonderment. With the help of my husband and son they managed to get my feet, one step at a time, up the ladder until they came to rest on the top platform.
“Now what?” I laughed.
“Well, I never!” The horse shook his head again.
“Here, let’s put your left foot in the stirrup,” my husband instructed, as my son took hold of my right leg and maneuvered it over the back of the horse.
“Ouch!!” The horse shook his whole body, “What did I do to deserve this?”
“Boy, the world looks different from up here,” I commented. “I’ve been sitting close to the ground for too long.”
“She’s been sitting too long period,” The horse shifted his weight digging his hoofs in the ground. “Bet she’s broader than I am! Did they pay for a half-day or a whole day’s ride?”
“Whew!” The horse beneath me shuttered again.
The trail ride was beautiful and my sure-footed mount followed the lead horse up and over the narrow mountain pass. I let the sun and the excitement retrieve my memories of past years and envelop me into the joys of the day. Then I heard the word, “Whoa.” Reality grabbed me; we must be going to dismount for lunch.
“Dismount and tie up your horses and we will enjoy a nice chuck-wagon Bar-B-Q.”
“Dismount! Where is the ladder?”
“Oops, nobody thought of that!” The horse whinnied.
“We’ll get you down,” my husband and son assured me.
After I was carefully ‘dragged’ from the horse’s back amidst laughs and jovial comments, I enjoyed delicious Bar-B-Q ribs and baked beans with all the trimmings. Then it was time to remount!
“How in the Sam-Hill am I going to get back on my horse?” I asked.
“You never thought about that did you, old gal?” The horse seemed a bit nervous as he shook his head from side to side.
Everyone laughed. Even the horse showed his teeth! Everyone except me! I hadn’t exactly planned this much excitement for one day! Everyone put their feet in the stirrups and whipped their legs over their horse’s backs except my little group of inexperienced problem solvers. My horse stood there waiting to see how ‘these city slickers were going to manage a solution to this dilemma. I had met up with problems before in my life – besides I wasn’t about to be left on the side of a mountain, my horse whinnying, his teeth showing and him galloping all the way back to the corral.
“I know, help me up on this picnic table,” I said.
“Well, I swear there’s more to that old gal than I thought.” The horse shook his head as they led him up along side the picnic table. “Guess there is more than one way to skin a rabbit after all!”
Down the backside of the mountain my horse carried me, as I sat straddling his back, the wind blowing in my hair. I did it – there ain’t no horse or mountain high enough – to keep this old gal from enjoying life!
© 2002, Betty King. All rights reserved – Used with permission.
Betty King is a freelance writer, newspaper columnist; she is the author of “It Takes Two Mountains to Make a Valley” and “But – It Was in the Valleys I Grew.” She has stories in several books including the Chicken Soup for the Mother and Daughter Soul. Her writings are found in Magazines including most recently Gulf Coast Living. She is working on her third book, “In the Palms of His Hands” and her fourth book, a collection of her newspaper columns. Read more of Betty’s writing on her website, www.BettyKing.net.