D.ad held my hand as we strolled over to the mammoth beast I was supposed to ride. Since I was only five years old, the horse looked like a dinosaur but didn’t seem to breathe fire. Dad heaved me into the saddle when I realized that horses are certainly bigger in real life than they are on TV. I tried not to be afraid, but my heart was pounding.
The horse must not have received the child too friendly on its back, because before we took a hoof-sized step, it bucked. The next thing I knew I was lying in the dirt, gasping for air. Yes, either the fall took my breath away or I decided to stop breathing so I don’t have to ride this dinosaur!
Fortunately, the only thing that got hurt was my dream to ride horses like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans do on TV.
I even had a cowgirl outfit and boots to play the role of her child one day. Now my illusions were shattered as I concluded that no one would put me in a saddle again.
Well, that’s what I believed in before Dad picked me up and sat back on the dinosaur as I screamed and kicked. This time, however, the horse did not buck. A handler led the horse and me around the oval track as I started to hum “Happy Trails to You” towards the end of my ride. “Shoot, maybe I’d be on TV with Roy and Dale by Saturday if I kept going like this!” I imagined.
There have been many times in my life when my dreams ended up in the mud. Times when I felt like nothing would make me believe I could put my broken hopes back together. Many of us have tried to overcome fears, tame, try and try, only to fail repeatedly. When my dad let me ride again so soon after my fall, he taught me that no matter what, if one try doesn’t kill you, just keep trying to find your happy trail.
My father had to push me a lot. From riding a bike to learning to drive a car to believe that if I put my fear aside long enough to try, I could do anything. Many times I kicked and screamed through my panic. I shook my head and stamped my feet, but ultimately I succumbed to his or my resolve.
When the world began to travel by car, my grandmother decided that driving was not for her. She wanted someone else to drive her, or she just walked to get what she needed. She put her stubborn foot down and was unmoved by her husband’s attempts to flop her into the driver’s seat.
Grandfather knew her reluctance was due to fear, but he eventually persuaded her to take the wheel. “Ok, but I’m not learning to drive on the road!” Grandpa explained. “Well, nannie, where are you going to study when you’re not out?” He has answered.
“In the front yard!” She announced and put that stubborn foot on the wooden floor.
Grandfather looked out the window and saw that the yard was full of trees. How was he going to stop her from running into one ?!
She got into the old car with Grandfather at her side, while both of them feared for their lives. She dodged trees, hit the brakes, and turned so hard she almost threw her husband out the passenger door. But somehow in the tree-lined front yard she miraculously captured the animal.
When grandpa was around 95, her kids eventually took their little red Dodge away because of their worsening dementia. When I visited her one day, I asked, “Grandpa, how are you?”
“Shoot, I would be fine if they returned my Dodge Dart!” She said as she stamped her foot on the tile floor.
Sometimes when we overcome our fears in order to fulfill our dreams we find utter joy like my grandmother when she started getting the car on the road. I assure you that she never went over 30 mph, but that wasn’t important to her.
It is not a day too late to put your worries aside and turn a dream into a reality. Find the Happy Trail for yourself and remember to get back in the saddle if you fall.
“Happy Trails to you, until we meet again
Some trails are happy
Others are blue
The way you drive the trail matters
Here’s a lucky one for you. ”