Smokey was my first taste of a fireball. A spunky black Hackney pony, Smokey taught me that some horses possess a cunning sense of humor. It was my second year at the camp that introduced me to horses, and I couldn’t wait for the classroom part to be over so I could find out my horse! After what seemed like forever, I learned I would be riding a little black pony named Smokey. A huge change from the tall gray horse I rode last year, Smokey would introduce a whole new world of riding to me.
He was friendly, spunky, and full of himself. Though very well-trained and still a beginner’s horse, he had a lot of energy. One chilly, windy afternoon we were trotting around the arena and – POP!- off I flew, straight into the dirt. Smokey had decided to let out a little buck of agitation at the wind, and my sixty pounds were caught completely unaware. As I stood up and brushed the dirt off, still shocked and wondering what had even happened, I could hear the instructor asking me if I was all right. I nodded yes and was met with my next big surprise of the day: she told me to get right back on. I completely expected her to send me to the barn to cozy up by the fire with some hot cocoa to nurse my “wounds.” This imagined scenario sounded delightful to me, now reminded of how cold it was and decidedly sore from my rough landing.
Her expectation of me to get back on Smokey was so clear, however, that I really didn’t have a choice. I knew I needed to get back on, and I wanted to. It was my first time to ever feel that true determination to conquer such an obstacle. I wasn’t scared of Smokey, so getting back on was easy once I pushed the thought of cocoa and a warm fireplace out of my mind. We had a wonderful ride after that, and I was so proud of myself for not just getting back on after falling, but for getting bucked off in the first place. It’s a strange thing, but I understood even at age 8 that you aren’t really a cowgirl until you’ve tasted some dirt.