Shannon’s Soapbox: Horse People Part 1 of 3 


It was my idea to go horseback riding. I take full responsibility for the events that transpired.

When I was married to my daughter’s father, he and I decided to take the kids on a mini-vacation, a weekend getaway, if you will. Our chosen destination was Cave City, KY. The area had plenty of things to entertain the kids for a full two days including Mammoth Cave, Dinosaur World, and Jesse James Adventure Park, which included bumper boats, an antique photo booth, alpine slides, a ski lift, a cave tour, and horseback riding. Not one of us had ever ridden a horse before, so I figured that it would be the highlight of our trip for sure. 

On the drive there I brought it up to him, he looked at me and said, “We are NOT horse people, Shannon.” 

“But it will be fun! Come on!” I said, as I nudged him playfully.

His answer was a simple, “No.”

I knew that if I could just get everyone there, and have Scarlett, our six-year-old daughter, plead with him, that he would eventually give in. He had a difficult time denying her anything. She had perfected the pouty lip and was successful with carrying it out 99% of the time.

We arrived at the Jesse James Adventure Park as soon as they opened, and I asked him once again if we could please go horseback riding. 

Scarlett took that moment to pipe in and begged him, “Daddy please, please, please!” She hugged him around the neck and gave him the pouty lip, just as I had predicted she would, even batted her eyelashes for extra emphasis.

He gave me a go to hell look, but I could see that his will was caving in. When we went in to pay, we had to sign this really long waiver that stated that the park was not responsible for any accidents. I assumed this was just the normal paperwork, but already he looked worried. 

“It’s not a good idea, Shannon, I’m telling you—we’re NOT horse people!”

“But we might BE horse people. How do we know if we are, or not, if we’ve never even tried?”

He rolled his eyes at me and sighed. I could see that he was only going along because he didn’t want to start an argument and ruin the trip. I appreciated this, but I knew that by the end of the day he was going to change his tune about horseback riding.

We walked around to the stables, the smell of hay and manure was strong in the air, and Scarlett started jumping up and down, barely able to contain her excitement at the prospect of riding a horse for the very first time. She grabbed my hand and pulled me along after her. I smiled at her, getting excited for her. Excitement like a yawn in that way: it was catching. Even he was smiling at this point. 

 The stables looked old and barely kept up. This should have been our first sign, but I ignored it as he made gaping faces and started pointing beside me to make sure he had my attention and that I had taken note of the shape of things. I ignored him too. The horses looked tired; the second sign, but I pushed forward anyways—what the hell did I know about how stables and horses were supposed to look? This could be perfectly normal for all I knew. It could very well be the way things were supposed to look—a rustic charm, perhaps.

 The guide we were appointed was working his very first day, and this—THIS—should have been our final sign, but he seemed really nice, and I figured that my ex’s attitude was just making me anxious. His name was Sam, and he explained to us that he would be guiding us on a three-mile ride. He asked how old Scarlett was, and I told him that she was almost seven. He stated that she could ride her own horse which made her feel very grown up and even more excited than she already was, if that was even possible. We all stepped up to our horses, and there was a step stool to help us up (which was nothing like I imagined getting on a horse should be like, I couldn’t help but chuckle a little at the prospect of using a stool to get on a horse). Everything that I thought I knew about riding a horse, from the movies, was wrong.

The kids got on the horses first, then me, then my ex. My ex and I were beside one another with the kids directly in front of us. He looked at me and said, “When I got on my horse it sighed and told me to get off.”  He said this in such a monotone voice that I started laughing at him because this is who he was—always making jokes—making an experience that he was not comfortable with funny. 

“It will be okay, I told him, as I shook my head and laughed. 

Before we actually got on the path, there was a photographer that took a picture of us each individually on our horse, so that when we came back, we could purchase these as a souvenir. This seemed wonderful to me at the time, because of course I was going to want a souvenir to show how much fun we had. Later I would wish that they had taken a before picture, as well as an after, so as to compare the two…

–Stay tuned next week for part 2


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