Equinophobia is a real condition, and I have it. It is also referred to as Hippophobia, but I prefer to refrain from using the word ‘hippo’ in any regards to myself.
Equinophobia is the fear of horses. I have always been someone who admires them from a far, and have wanted to feel a zen like connection that others feel when they are near them. But, the only emotion I exude when close is terror sprinkled with a smidge of paranoia.
Until, I met “Dude.”
“Dude” is a horse at the equestrian center at Sea Brook, SC. I met him last November when my daughter’s and I went on a trail ride around the island. It was not my first ride. On my inaugural jaunt, I was given a horse named Sherman.
Let’s go to that moment shall we; my first time ever riding a horse.
trail guide: “Ok, you are the last one. You will be riding “Sherman.”
me: “Kind of like…”I was a nerd in high school, Sherman?”
trail guide: “No, as in “General Sherman”. He brings up the rear and makes sure all the other horses stay in line.”
me: “Did I mention that I am a beginner?”
trail guide: “Then he is perfect for you because he will do all the work.”
And Sherman was true to form, because he in fact did all of the work. It was Leo, the horse in front of me who kept taking a terrified mother of two through the bushes and rubbing her against the palm trees in hopes of knocking her to the ground. I did not know whether to laugh or cry hearing her desperate pleas for him to behave.
When we returned to the island for Thanksgiving and went riding, I only knew to say, “Just please do not give me Leo.”
Standing on the rider’s block to mount my horse that fall day, I was very anxious. They brought around “Dude” for me to ride, and the trail guide told me a little bit about him. As I listened, my ears honed in on one pertinent piece of information.
Dude and I were the same age. I was in love.
There were only four of us riding that day, and the weather was perfect. It was cool and the air was fresh. I brought up the rear once again, but it was not like my experience riding Sherman. Sherman was all business, and always on task. He would nudge(*read goose) other horses in the rear for stopping to eat a little snack along the way. He would make sure that everyone stayed in line and no horse lagged behind.
Dude had no such interests. His only desire was to just plod along. One time there was a small dip in the trail and all of the horses were having fun and feeling a little frisky with the cool weather. So, when they hit the slope, they cantered down and then back up. It is my youngest daughter’s favorite memory to date.
Then there was Dude and I. We just loped down and back up. Everyone laughed because they had stopped to let us catch up, and saw him take his sweet time with the obstacle. The trail guide asked me how I was doing, to which I could only reply, “You know…..Dude and I really understand each other. I am a huge fan.”
So, last week when we were scheduled for a trail ride, I was praying that “Dude” was still alive and well. I do not know much about the life span of horses, but my deep fear was that he had been put on the Elmer’s glue aisle ‘put out to pasture.’ As the trail guide was divvying up horses, with his clipboard in hand, he looked at my oldest daughter and said, “You will be riding, Dude.” Her face dropped with disappointment. She then asked him, “Do you think I could have a more interesting horse? One that is a little faster?”
She was given another horse, and he looked at me, and said, “Then, you will be riding Dude.”
I love it when a romance is rekindled.