Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Still afraid of horses...

Morning Round Up at Willow Lane Ranch

There are rational fears, and irrational fears. After seeing Jaws in 1975 starring Bruce the mechanical shark, I was overcome with the fear of (swimming in) oceans, not really rational, but in order to be able to see and photograph underwater I got over it, to the extent of becoming a certified Divemaster, and even night diving at Cocos Island, also known as the "Island of the Sharks". 

This has little to do with the subject of this blog entry other than the part about irrational fear, and the timing of the onset of that fear. Because sometime around the time I saw Jaws I also made my almost first and certainly last (until now) attempt at riding a horse. It took off, with me on it, out of control. I was terrified and that fear never went away. 

Cut to 2012.  My friend Diane Hash, recently fully certified as an Equine Massage Therapist invites me to join her husband country music writer Joe Hash on a guest ranch in the foothills of Alberta to do some photography for her website. My reaction: what a great opportunity to get over irrational animal based fear #2 (not really the complete mental narrative, but the only important part)!

Because of the excessive rainfall this year, the grass is greener than Joe and Di remember seeing it in all the years they've stayed here, and the horses have been pigging out. And I am thrilled because the landscape is so vibrant! There are wildflowers, green, green grass and blue, blue sky with ever changing puffy white clouds all around us.

Keith and LeAnne Lane have been running this guest ranch for long enough that they are starting to cut way back on the number of weeks per year they are taking guests. I am so lucky to have got in before it's too late...talk about a memorable week! For me, sort of like Outward Bound, but on a horse. 

In a nutshell, Keith did his level best to teach me to ride, LeAnne made the best home made food I have possibly ever had (I will never forget the cheese popovers, or the chocolate pudding cake), and I did my best to figure out ways to take creative, interesting and pleasing pictures while trying to hold the reins as instructed, loosely and lightly crossed, in one hand and my camera in the other. This resulted in my falling off, extremely ungracefully, on two different occasions (from two different horses) but I got the shots I wanted! 

While, ultimately, I ended up pretty much every bit as afraid of horses as I was before, maybe even more afraid (I hadn't realized how easy it is to fall off!), on some level I actually deeply enjoyed pretending to be a cowgirl. I even managed to do my part (a bit) and contribute to the the cattle moving...I successfully convinced my horse "Donkey" to go where I needed him to go to stop a calf from making a break for it during a round up. (I admit I put my camera away to do that.)

End of the day at Beaver Creek

So yes, oddly enough, I find some strangely affected part of my brain desperately looking forward to riding again. I won't be doing that, though. Unless someone needs me to get a picture of, or from, a horse. 

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