Birth of the Balance Rider ~ Part One
© J. L. Hardesty
It all started one day in early spring, when the snow was softening from icy white to the pearlescent color that hints at winter’s end. Here in the Rocky Mountains, the transformation from frozen to fertile happens slowly. So this is an especially welcome change of seasons, when riders’ dreams turn to horseback climbs up switchback trails, gallops across broad meadows, and the music of fast-flowing streams in the high country.
That year, as I began my own annual imaginings, I ran head long into a fear I had never known before. A busy life had taken its toll and, when I wasn’t watching, the young rider I had been became a woman who worked too much, and rode a horse too little. As a result, my confidence ~ along with my youthful dreams ~ had retreated to a dusty corner of my mind. I stilled loved the horses as much as ever, but fear of falling had stolen my lifelong anticipation of the joy in the ride.
Jim Lauter, my dearly loved husband for a quarter of a century by then, was watching sports when I walked into the living room and arbitrarily announced that I was afraid. “Of what?” he asked, clearly surprised by words he very rarely heard from me.
“As much as I always look forward to it, I don’t think I want to ride this summer,” I said. And then the tears began to fall.
Pushing the pause button on the TV, Jim stood up, gave me a hug and comforted me, as well as a husband can do at times like this. I didn’t ask him for a solution, and he didn’t offer any promises. So, when he went back to watching sports and I went for a walk with my dog, I had no expectations, just an unfamiliar sadness that I didn’t want to explore.
Although we didn’t know it then, the seeds of a new dream were planted on that spring day. We’ve always been a team, Jim and I, partners and friends on the journey ~ a fact that might seem sort of remarkable since our interests are so different. Jim is an exercise scientist with extensive knowledge about most sports, especially football. I’m a writer, who has an inordinate love of music and of all God’s creatures, especially horses and dogs. Despite our differences, this marriage of opposites works uncommonly well ~ without doubt because we share deep faith, and each of us puts the other first. From this special brand of loving, was born the new dream, another adventure in our life.
I forgot to mention that Jim is also an inventor. The day after my impromptu confession, my beloved exercise scientist, armed with his super creative mind, went to work on a balance-enhancing, core-strengthening device that he believed could help me regain my lost confidence, and find renewed joy in the ride.
Coming soon ~ Part Two . . . The rest of this story.