In the beginning, it was a battle of wills. I tried to encourage Poncho, my horse for an hour, to pick up the pace. He was cautious and tentative on the downhills (slowing to a near crawl), and was barely moving on the uphills. It’s not as if I weight an excessive amount or anything; he just wasn’t into the ride I thought.
All around us were vineyards and a great open space preserve. It was beautiful and undiscovered. I itched to get off of the horse and run beside it. There was such great running here. I don’t know how or why I’d never discovered it until now.
Up ahead riding his own horse was YaYa the birthday boy. TJ, YaYa’s horse, didn’t always feel his gentle kicks or pull of the reigns, but even he seemed more willing to comply to orders than Poncho. I took a deep breath and tried to remember to enjoy myself. But my horse was like a slower runner who had somehow got mixed in with the elites. The horse behind me was right on Poncho’s tail.
I felt the impatience of those stuck behind me on a single-track trail. I hate being pushed to go faster than I want in this fast-paced world. If we were on the freeway, I’d be changing lanes to get someone off of my tail. The all too familiar anxiety began to ignite within me. Poncho, however, was indifferent to it all.
Riding Poncho made me think of Tom, as if HE was the horse somehow. “What’s the rush? Have patience,” he seemed to say. “Try to enjoy yourself.” It was so familiar, this battle of wills. We’d be late for an event and he’d be dragging his feet in getting out the door, indifferent to my need to be on time. Then we’d get in the car and he would drive faster than I wanted him to in order to make up the time.
As my mind wandered, YaYa and TJ were getting further away. “Our son is out of reach,” I thought, “What if he needed his parents?” Almost on queue, Poncho picked up the pace to a trot (or the next faster gait) until we were right behind YaYa and TJ again. Then he stopped to swat away the flies landing on him. His refusal to move seemed to say, “I can get there if I need to, but I don’t need to.”
Well, Poncho showed me didn’t he. We rode along at a comfortable distance behind. I took in the scenery and waved to the birthday boy up ahead. Poncho kept his own pace and I got used to being a little more indifferent to being the effect of everyone else’s rushed pace. I even let myself enjoy it.