When I woke Ivy up this morning, I said, “Today’s the day!” Her eyes flew open, and she sat up.
My parents gave Ivy an early birthday gift of a horseback ride with me. We had both been counting down the days.
When we got to the ranch this afternoon, we discovered the other scheduled riders were late and would miss this ride, so Ivy and I would set out alone with our trail guide. I could not be happier. My horse was named Roscoe and Ivy’s horse was named Sonny.
What I will remember most about this day is Ivy’s smile. Every time I looked back at her, she grinned like a Cheshire cat. She whispered to me, “This is so fun!” I heard her coaxing and encouraging her horse throughout the ride. “There you go…Good job… Keep going…Good boy…” She was in heaven.
I was hoping our trail guide, a 20-year-old named Kelsey, wouldn’t be too talkative. Small talk makes me tired. She wasn’t. We most often rode in silence. She occasionally gave us riding tips, like lean back and push our feet in the stirrups while riding downhill, etc. She also pointed out little critter remnants: tracks in the grass where beavers had been sliding into the creek, deer prints in the dirt, scratches on a tree where a buck had scraped his horns. Kelsey mentioned that she had recently visited a potential college in Montana. She said, "I didn't see anything there that would make it worth giving up Oregon. Especially the trees." I agree! I thank God often for the beauty of this place I live in. Creeks, rivers, mountains, farms, the ocean, and especially the trees.
My favorite part of our ride was walking across the creeks. It seemed just a tiny bit treacherous, and made me feel like I was in some western like Open Range. I know, this was the most basic trail ride possible, but it sparked the imagination!
I left my phone back at the barn with my parents. Several times I looked back at Ivy and wished I could snap a picture to capture her beauty and her joyful smile. Then I realized, sometimes it’s better to just enjoy moments instead of trying to capture them on camera. I’ll take good care of the memory of my girl behind me on the trail, even though I can’t look at it again or post it online.
As we rode along, it was quiet. The trail was sometimes sunny and hot, sometimes cool and shady. I was remembering when I went on a trail ride with my Girl Scout troop as a young girl. I thought to myself, “Ivy will always remember this day.”
As we approached the barn, I turned back to Ivy and traced a fake tear down my cheek to show my sadness that it was over. She giggled.
My parents were there to welcome us back. They were all smiles. They knew they had made their granddaughter (and their daughter), so happy this day. After we climbed off our horses, we thanked Kelsey, and we said a farewell to the barn kitten, Squirt, who rewarded us with loud purring.
I asked Ivy if the ride was as good as she expected. She said, “No. It was better.”
This evening I was lying in the hammock in my backyard, remembering the trail ride with my daughter, who will soon be ten. She’s growing up so fast. I am so grateful we got to make this memory. My children are the most precious gifts God has given me. I don’t want to take my time with them for granted.