“What is it like to run on a horse?”

Her doe brown eyes held wonder and intrigue, as though she had just asked me what it was like in Narnia or some distant fantastical land.

It caught me by surprise. The innocence of the question.

She didn’t know it was technically called a canter and I wasn’t about to correct her with terms that don’t fully encapsulate riding a horse.

“It’s like flying,” I said.

She smiled wider, transfixed on the mental image.

“It’s fast, yet smooth. The wind whips past your ears and you can’t help but grin…”

We get to ride. Have we forgotten the blessing of that statement?

It’s taken me 27 years to realize that riding is more than ribbons or colored breeches or matching boots.

Webster’s dictionary defines riding as, “to sit and travel on the back of an animal that one directs.”

To sit and travel.

I’ve sat countless physical and mental miles on a horse. Traveled by the bittersweet change of becoming an adult. Traveled through a parent’s addiction, past my first broken heart, over the awkwardness of high school, across the rocky road of college and onward.

On the back of an animal.

We are blessed to ride horses and my animals have been irreplaceable members of my family. Misty: the steadfast pony that toted me over hill and dale, bareback, before I knew the definition of a lead or half-pass. Shiloh: the mare who knew everything including the judge’s command of “walk, trot, canter” before I even asked. Rusty: my first green horse, best friend and four-legged boyfriend who conquered B-show derbies and loved Lucky Charms cereal. Sophie: my heart horse who taught me the thrill of trail riding and knows when I simply need to sit on her back and be.

That one directs.

I believe this portion of the definition is incorrect. We don’t direct them. In truth, they are the ones that direct us in patience, humility, perseverance, and trust.