Yesterday my husband and I went horseback riding to celebrate our anniversary. We were at a stable where you can rent the horse for one hour or two. If you pay for two hours you get the third hour free. We have not done a lot of this in our lives so we felt we needed a guide, at least for the first hour.
At the end of the first hour our guide explained that we had been on the trails and we could just keep following them if we wanted to. The horses know the way back and if we were comfortable by ourselves he would go back and pick up the next group. We knew we would just be walking so no problem, right?
It had rained some, but then stopped. I had put on my rain poncho, expecting more severe weather. We were out there by ourselves when the downpour started. Tom’s horse spooked when a bolt of lightning cracked some distance away and he fell out of the saddle. His foot got caught in the stirrup. Due to an old shoulder injury he was unable to set himself free.
The same time his horse spooked, so did mine. I am short and can neither mount nor dismount by myself. He was hanging there pleading for my help and I had to take the time to figure out how I was going to get off my horse. I finally was able to get off without injuring myself and help him. Now the question was, with so many forks along these trails, which way led back to the stables? We would both have to lead our horses. We thought about letting them go but they seemed more interested in eating the local vegetation that moving. We figured we’d be waiting a long time so we started leading them.
The rain got worse; the trails were extremely narrow in some places, and I discovered that contrary to the song “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” western boots are definitely NOT made for walking or riding either. My foot kept slipping off the bank, my ankle twisting, and some rarely used leg muscles were cramping. My glasses were covered with water and I couldn’t see where I was going. My fanny pack wasn’t waterproof so my lens cleaning cloth wasn’t going to solve that problem. Lesson number two: Find a waterproof fanny pack. You never know when it’s going to rain.
We meandered around and got lost. My horse stepped on the edge of my rain poncho and it took what seemed like ten minutes to get him off of it so I wouldn’t choke. My bladder chose that time to let loose and I couldn’t stop it. On top of that, at this point I could no longer see or hear Tom, who was ahead of me. I started crying. Finally I remembered to pray and ask for God’s direction. I cried out and said, “Lord, what do I do now? Where is Tom? How are we going to get back?” Then Tom called out to me. He wasn’t very far ahead but the rain and thunder had drowned out my voice so he couldn’t hear until I start sobbing—loudly.
Lesson number three: Don’t criticize or belittle other Christians whose faith appears to falter in times of trouble. Sometimes your brain freezes and you just can’t think. God doesn’t leave us, but He does allow us to get to the place where our minds shift back into the right gear. He is such a patient and loving God. He promised He would never leave us or forsake us. He didn’t then and He never will.
A short time later we heard voices and Tom called out asking for directions back to the stables. They helped me get back on a horse so I would no longer have to walk—good thing because it turned out to be probably a good mile and a half or so back there. They also got Tom back on a horse. Then they gave us addresses and phone numbers of two local clinics. We were told there he would need to go to a hospital so we decided to go to a hospital in the town where we live. We will never forget this anniversary and I will never again ask to go horseback riding. It isn’t worth the risk of injuring his shoulder again.