I rode a horse yesterday. Now, to some of you, that may not seem like much but let me explain. See, my daughter, E.A., takes horseback riding lessons at Cargo Ranch near where we live; well, it’s really more riding, less lesson because of her age, but she is learning about horses and basic control of the horse. (Take a minute to look at their website and see what they’re doing. It’s a fantastic ministry!) The horse she rides is a Tennessee Walker, for those of you who have any clue what that means, and he is quite large. And by “quite large” I mean almost 6 feet tall at the shoulders. I was reaching way over my head when I grabbed the saddle horn from the ground (ok, you should be really impressed that I just used the term “saddle horn.” Really.)
So we went to the ranch to have our lesson yesterday and my little 3-year-old darling was having an “I-don’t-want-to” day. You know, the days where she says “I don’t want to” to everything you suggest, even her favorite things, like eating chocolate, drinking Dr. Pepper, or…riding a horse?! Anyway, our kind instructor saddled up the horse despite E.A.’s attitude and rode him around the yard a bit but all E.A. wanted was for me to hold her. So I asked her again if she would ride with her teacher, to which she replied (you guessed it) “I don’t want to.” So, for some bizarre, mommy-love-induced, I-want-to-see-my-child-have-a-better-day-and-do-something-she-really-loves reason, I said, “Will you ride the horse with Mommy?” Um, what? Did I just say that? No, surely I didn’t. Me, who has been on a horse 3 times in my life (that’s once a decade for those of you counting and it’s been 6 years so I’m not due yet). Me, who is pretty sure I know which end is the front on a horse and where a saddle goes on it, but not much else. Me, who has a problem with - GULP - FEAR!!
Yeah, that’s right, fear. My husband has been (very lovingly) pointing out to me how I have been breeding fear in my older child by not allowing her to try things because of my own (mostly irrational) fears. Now, I agree this isn’t fair to my child. She should be allowed to form her own irrational fears and not just inherit mine. So I have been trying to loosen that leash a little bit and allow her to do more things that I’m afraid of her doing and even some things I think she might fail at. But, seriously, does that mean I have to put MYSELF at risk here!
Well, apparently, I do. Or, at least, I did it whether I had to or not.
So, my little darling says, “Yes!” almost before the words had left my mouth. I call out to her instructor and tell her the change in plans which of course delights her. She brings the (very large) horse over to where we are standing, dismounts, and takes E.A. from me. She then offers to bring me a bucket to stand on so that I can actually reach the horse which I graciously accept. So I step on the bucket, find a stirrup (more correct terminology!!) and swing on up onto the horse. Did I mention he is big? At this point, I’m pretty sure a fall from him would be fatal for me (again, this is a completely irrational fear; I would probably only break a few long bones and possibly get a concussion, depending on how successfully I broke my fall). I knew my kid was brave, but I apparently didn’t appreciate just how brave!
Her teacher hands E.A. up to me and the teacher guides us all around the yard. At least I didn’t have to hold the reins! We rode around for probably only 2 minutes. I really couldn’t accurately tell you; I was concentrating on not falling off the horse, which is much harder than it sounds since I couldn’t reach the stirrups (her teacher is quite tall as well)! So, when I had had enough excitement, my little darling agreed to let me off the horse and ride with her teacher. She, of course, had a great time. She always giggles when the get the horse up to a trot or faster and this time was no different. So, mission accomplished. She was in a much better mood afterward and she got to do one of her favorite things.
But I wonder how often we are like this. How often are we paralyzed by irrational fear? How often do we not take that risk, call about that new job opportunity, extend that hand to meet a new person because we’re afraid of what looks like a very large horse but is really a horse that’s gentle enough for a 3-year-old to ride by herself?
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV) “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control”