• Jillian Bleackley

Much More Than A Riding Helmet

Updated: May 12, 2020




Bouncing up and down, the rhythm of the horse, hearing his clip-clop on the cement pavement. We weren't going at the speed of lightning, but in my mind we could have been. I rode this Appaloosa horse on Saturdays and Thursdays, and he made me feel free and not tied down by restraints. Through frigid and warm weather, we were a team. I had one person on each side of me just to make sure I didn't fall off, but I might as well have been alone. I tried not to pay attention to anything except my instructor Shannon Witt and what she wanted me to do with my horse. They say horses can smell fear- but thanks to Shannon and my tame horse Mister, I was not afraid at all. Mister was the name of my favorite horse.

I was unencumbered by four wheels, although I had a seat belt on the horse. It felt like I was on top of the world. I can still feel the coarse mane of the horse. Those four years are now past thoughts in my brain, but I have a souvenir from the time that I rode. Now, my souvenir collects dust up in the top shelf at my parents' house; a blue Charles Owen helmet that I remember getting at a tack shop. I also remember the Italian velvet feel of it underneath my fingers when I first put it on. It smelled new and the perfect fit for my small head. I remember feeling like a queen. I miss my riding days, but I'll always have the memories.

Every Saturday without fail, a local country music station would play my favorite song by George Canyon, "A Good Day To Ride". On sunny days I used to play this song over and over in my head while I was riding, and marvel at the surrounding beauty that I was able to experience while on my horse. I remember the changing colors of the leaves in the fall and the frigidness of the weather in the winter.

I never fell off my horse, but I have emotionally taken a fall. This past summer I fell again, but I always get back up. Riding is a great metaphor for life, because as they say "if you fall down you must get back up". No matter how bad things get, there's always tomorrow, when it will be another good day to ride.

What makes you feel alive?

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