The dream of riding a horse in the wide-open West had been with me since I was a girl. Those Saturday morning shows like Roy Rogers spurred my interest, making me want to feel that freedom from a saddle. When my Aunt Polly told me stories of visiting the Tetons, my dream broadened to riding horseback there. It was time to make that a reality.
I scheduled my solo journey to Wyoming. I’d learned from cancer that you should live with intention, not wasting the time you have by postponing your heart’s desires. Each trip I completed gave me more confidence in boldly stepping forward and trying new things. I’d hiked a mountain alone and stayed with strangers in hostels. Surely I could ride a horse again– even though it had been at least thirty years.
I planned my stay at Colter Bay in the Grand Teton National Park. They offered riding trails led by experienced wranglers. Their website stated all levels of riders could participate. I assumed they’d give me a gentle horse, an old gray mare for a middle-aged woman. But instead, they assigned me to Tequila.
Great, I thought, a horse that can make you crazy.
“She’s good, but sometimes she wants to lead the pack,” the college-age wrangler told me. “I’ll ride behind you to help you keep her in line.”
I felt my first flutter of panic, climbing up into the saddle on the very tall horse. I couldn’t believe how high up it felt once I was seated– my height added to Tequila’s. We practiced how to use the reigns and heard instructions on going up and downhill.
We followed the lead wrangler, starting out through a forest where the ground was level. About the time I felt myself relaxing, Tequila jerked to the side to move in front of the horse in front of us. I clung to the saddle horn for dear life as the wrangler came around from behind and expertly edge Tequila back into position.
The trail started downhill and the lead wrangler turned to face us. “Remember to sit back and keep your toes facing the sky,” the wrangler told our group of nine.
I did what she said but felt like I was going to go over the top of the horse. Level ground was much better!
Finally, it was flat again as we entered a grassy meadow with wildflowers: red Indian Paintbrush, yellow Balsamroot, and blue lupines. We stopped in front of Jenny Lake that was as smooth as glass and the stunning mountains were mirrored in the water, a double beauty to behold. We sat on our horses and drank in the splendor.
I felt like I’d arrived to the dream of my childhood. That place really existed and now as an adult, I was getting to discover it. Taking a breath of the clean, evergreen-scented air, I felt thankful that I’d made it to the Tetons. The journey I’d started in my imagination as a child had now been achieved. This feeling of accomplishment, of completion, was worth all the effort it took to get here, and worth conquering my fear of riding a horse, a very tall horse.
How about you?
Is there a place you’ve dreamed of but never made it there?
Is there an activity you’ve wanted to do but have been afraid to try?
How could you make your dreams become realities?