I sat there desperately trying not to be yanked over my horse’s head. Just sitting still on horseback was proving to be a challenge for me. I was not liking my chances of staying on this creature for the duration of our tour.
When we started moving forward, I was downright terrified, but I tried to project an outward calm so as not to worry my companions. My anxiety is my own problem and I try not to visit it on anyone else.
“You look good up there,” one of my companions said. The others looked over at me and could see the nervous smile plastered across my face.
“That’s her scared smile,” my husband noted to our friends who weren’t familiar with my particular hybrid of grimace and smile.
After a few more steps, my horse started shaking her neck and back. This was probably just her moving, but she may as well have been a bucking bronco. We hadn’t even gotten to the entrance of the farm yet. My nerves were completely jangled and I was ready to bail on this experience.
“You know what?” I calmly called out to the group, “I think I’ll wait in the car.”
“You’re not going to wait in the car,” my husband said. “We’ll be gone for a long time and you’ll miss out on this experience.”
“This has already been an experience. I have my book. I can absolutely wait in the car. Go ahead without me. I’ll be fine here,” I said as the horse pulled her head forward again.
The guide realized I was not doing well and asked me to come up next to her so she could help me. I attempted to get Clara to move, but couldn’t seem to get the horse to go where I wanted. The guide gave me a few suggestions which I employed to no avail. Despite the beautiful Icelandic landscape splayed out in front of us, I desperately wanted to get off this horse.
As I was fantasizing about the comfort and safety of the back seat of our rental car, the guide sidled up next to me and hitched my horse to hers.
“Clara seems a little fussy today, but having her next to my horse will keep her in line,” she said.
We started walking again. My horse seemed to calm down. I wondered if the guide could hook something up to me to calm me down, too. Why hadn’t I thought to take a tranquilizer before doing this?
Our parade of horses walked along the trail in the stunning Icelandic countryside. The rain and wind had started up again, but it just lent more beauty to the setting. We were surrounded by a heather covered meadow where sheep were wandering around grazing as a stream meandered past. The only sounds we heard were the horses’ hooves on the ground, the babbling water and the bleating of the sheep. It was surreal scenery.
I was grateful to have the opportunity to see so much natural beauty and I was focusing on it to distract myself from the fact that I was sitting on the back of a very large animal. When we arrived at a one-horse wide bridge, our guide dismounted, unhooked my horse from hers and handed me the reins.
“You’re doing a great job. You can handle the horse across the bridge,” she said.
As soon as I had the reins in my hands again, the horse jerked her head forward.
“Here we go again,” I murmured as I contemplated the temperature of the water in the stream into which this horse would surely pitch me.
I watched as my friends smoothly navigated their horses across the wooden bridge. I’d been sitting on my horse for 45 minutes and I hadn’t fallen off. That was quite an accomplishment. I could do this! My horse did not seem to share my positive attitude. She refused to move.
Our guide once again grabbed a tether for my horse and led her across the bridge closely following behind her horse.
Once safely across the bridge, Clara remained attached to the guide’s horse and we continued through the meadow walking closely side by side. As we were walking, I realized that my right leg was often brushing up against the buttocks of the guide’s horse. The tail was gently brushing over my leg. It was at this moment that a new worry presented itself. What if this horse crapped on me? I considered looking down at my own foot, but didn’t dare shift my gaze for fear of falling off.
I could always just ask my husband and friends if I had horseshit on my leg. Surely they would have said something if this was the case. Then again, they all knew I was uncomfortable. Telling me I had been shat upon wouldn’t make me feel any better and there was nothing I could do about it anyway. Did I really want to know? My anxiety was already in overdrive. In this case, I decided that ignorance was bliss.
I kept my eyes on the horizon trying to pick out the barn in the distance. I thought we were heading back when the guide took us across the road and up a hill. As I held on to the saddle and tried not to roll backwards off the horse, I marveled at how well she handled walking uphill on loose rocks.
When we reached the top, the guide announced that we would be taking a short break. Really? Can’t we just get this over with? I kept these thoughts to myself, but when the guide suggested we dismount the horses, I had to speak up.