A few moments after we set off from the stable, I worried I had made a mistake in my choice of morning activity. It had been years since I had ridden a horse, and the reins felt foreign in my sweaty grasp. The powerful pulse of the noble beast below me made me very aware that I had, to some degree, entrusted my safety to a stranger, my borrowed horse for the morning: Doc. As we set off along a narrow, steep and rocky trail under the hot New Mexico sun, I was feeling uneasy.
At every change in incline, Doc set off into a brief trot and then stopped short, violently waving away the flies that were buzzing around his auburn mane and face. At every stream, he would lean down and lazily sip the cool water, as I nervously leaned back and hoped for the best. Sensing my fear, another rider advised me that horses take the lead from the emotional states of their riders, and so if I remained confident, all would be well. Those words, combined with the offering of a cool breeze against my neck were all I needed to regain a sense of calm.
My narrow focus widened and I began to take in the morning sunlight hitting the emerald leaves of elegant tress that lined our path, with a soundtrack of a nearby bubbling stream and hooves clopping underfoot. As we continued, the landscape began to change, from an enclosed wooded trail to an expansive prairie. Short grasses dotted with wild irises and daffodils swayed in the breeze, and snow-capped mountains stood proud in the distance. I was mesmerized. All I could think to myself was, “This is America.”
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