We just finished an exciting morning of horseback riding—one of the few things I wanted to be sure we did before our vacation time was up. We found a homey ranch called Juro Stables in Mount Juliet, Tennessee (about thirty miles from our Best Western Music Row in Nashville). My small, black steed was appropriately named Beauty—we asked around to see if someone was riding a horse named Beast, but alas, it wasn’t the case. My sister Alyssa had Twister, a white horse that preferred roughing it through the brush and trees to stepping on those pesky trails of mud (apparently Twister wears the pants in that particular relationship). Mom hoped for “a boring horse,” and she lucked out with the calm and gentle Patch. Dad, one of the shortest riders there, somehow ended up with the most imposing horse. Frieda was her name, and one look at her evoked the phrase, “large and in charge.”
Well, Beauty was a newcomer; she’d only been with the herd for a few months. Most of the other horses hadn’t quite warmed up to her yet. Actually, to say that my cousin’s horse Marsie hated Beauty wouldn’t be an understatement. We hadn’t even made it to the trail yet and Marsie was taking a few snaps at her. One of the guides came to ride behind me, all the better to keep a watchful eye on the temperamental Marsie. The guide’s name was Marsha and she turned out to be a remarkable conversationalist—or perhaps it just isn’t that difficult for people with that many remarkable events going on in their lives. She grew up on the stage, starring in commercials as a child, and has passed her talent onto her daughter, Charley Woods (her name even sounds famous, doesn’t it?) A singer and songwriter, she has performed with celebrities like Brad Paisley and David Nail—two big names in the country music industry—and she’s on her way to getting a record deal. Marsha encouraged us to ask Charley for pictures and autographs when we returned to the ranch and Mom promised to take her up on the offer, giggling at the thought of those bragging rights—“I knew her before she was famous!”
Just before we completed the trail, Marsha and our other guide surprised us with the chance to try a short jaunt of trotting. Beauty must have been a bit restless from the slow pace of walking because she seemed to be going for more of a canter than a trot. The ground turned a bit uneven and I slid to the left, the horse’s rocking movement only intensifying my feeling of imbalance. Clinging to my horse with my short legs, I used the reins to convince Beauty to return to a slower speed while I readjusted my weight. With that bit of excitement over, our group came together for a quick picture before heading back to the stables to dismount.
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