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Braving the Storm..

By Denise Conroy

A good weekend for riding....IF you like rain. ;0)

Sunday, I was taking Kelsey on a trail ride...this was her first trail ride and she had only recently been introduced to Curly Horses. Her mom had to drive her 45 min. to get here and I was looking forward to her coming. It was sprinkling but I checked the weather before we left and it was supposed to pass over us quickly. We put on our rain coats to be safe and headed was sprinkling....still.  Her mom sat in the truck while we rode. I estimated we would be gone about 1 1/2 hours at most. There was blue sky up ahead and I was very optimistic that the rain would end soon and blue skies would greet us on the way home. We were 45 min. up the trail and tucked in a nice safe section of woods (at least I hoped it would be a safe place considering I hadn't ridden in a Thunderstorm before!) when I heard thunder rumbling. I hoped it was distant and would blow past us and said a little prayer. Most of all, I wanted to keep Kelsey safe and return her home with no bad experiences.

All of a sudden a loud crack of lightening caused Reese to jump a tiny bit. Chy stopped but didn't jump...and then seemed to think it may be a good time to go home. lol. Kelsey simply turned him back around with a firm leg and rein. I decided to dismount and hold the horses til it passed over us. I figured a few minutes and we would be on our merry way. (Hello? you hear me? I prayed.).

10 minutes later, Chy was getting more restless to go home or move on....Reese was totally content to eat! Lol. The thunder continued but seemed more distant. SO, I remounted and started on our way home. Chy tends to want to walk a bit fast going home so I made sure that Kelsey knew the one-rein stop and also  insisted she keep Chy behind Reese. She listened very well and  was very brave. I decided to start singing, "Singing in the Rain" --- very off key, I might add. Kelsey just smiled at my attempt to make light of the situation, I think.  It relaxed me mostly and hopefully distract Kelsey from any fears she may be feeling. ;-) The thunder grew loud again once we were on a small two-track type road and we saw lots of lightening. The horses never flinched....they were so GOOD! I would have liked to trot to get back quicker, but with the thunder cracking so loud overhead, I knew it would be safer to keep it at a walk....even if it meant we would be drenched by the time we got back.

It continued to down pour HARD-- I have never been caught in such a fierce rain before....I absolutely could NOT believe it. I looked up at the sky, wanting to have a really firm chat with God about this whole thing but instead I couldn't help but smile. Inspite of the storm around us, I knew God would keep us safe. I thought about something I read once, that said, "God doesn't always spare us from the "storms in life" but he will safely guide us through them. I decided then to trust God in that promise and embrace the power around me....really "feeling" the rain and enjoying this very unique and rare experience.

We were about 25 min. from home and Reese became very hesitant to move out. He kept wanting to stop as if he saw something --- I was able to leg him forward but the pace was VERY slow....( I know my horse well enough that when he acts like this....there is always a GOOD reason.) So I dismounted and hand walked ahead of Kelsey and Chy. Okay, so now my boots are sloshing from the huge puddles, but for some reason, I just kept smiling. Call me crazy...but I was. ;-) I was joking at how my "prairie horse" was getting really used to walking in puddles and I would have to do this more often. lol. Kelsey smiled. ;-)  Lightening continued and Kelsey would lower her head and tuck in her shoulders with the loud strikes above, but she never said a word.....thunder roared and hail fell.  A few minutes later, I decided to remount -- and now only had a short distance to go. I plopped in the saddle and it was completely was cold, wet and I sort of held my breath from the shock!  the ONE Part of my body that was dry...was now drenched....(my bum!)

I decided we could trot now...we were so close to home. We laughed as the horses trotted thru the puddles, splashing more water all around us. It was also fun to watch them try to avoid the puddles too --- we were zig zagging all down the road. I was laughing the entire time.

The truck was in sight and Reese and I stepped over this huge log...expecting Chy to follow......which he did, but he jumped it! I looked back to find Chy trotting next to me and Kelsey now sitting IN FRONT the of saddle, on Chy's neck...hanging on for dear life! Surprised, I said, KELSEY! What happened?? ....and with her head face down, unable to move she quietly said, "Chy jumped." - LOL....I laughed as I struggled to help her back in the saddle.....I asked her if she was scared and she nodded yes. Poor thing! But she recovered quickly as we met up with her Mom and untacked our very wet horses and felt the weight of our drench clothes against our tired bodies.  The really neat thing was that Kelsey's Mom wasn't even worried! She said she knew I would be safe and take care of her daughter. Wow....I was overwhelmed at her confidence in me. It felt really good.

I say, it's always a GREAT ride when you come back SAFE. SO this was quite the adventure and an unforgettable trail ride for both of us. It really proved the breed in the quiet manner Chy and Reese handled the storm and how they (and God of course! ;-) brought  us safely home. I was very proud of them! AND I was very proud of Kelsey and how she handled the situation bravely and without fear. She later told her Mom that she had a great time and it was so much fun!!! Now that's a true Cowgirl!!

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