Ten years ago this year my husband and I met on a guest ranch in Arizona. He was working as the head wrangler and I was the head of operations. Even though I’ve ridden off and on for most of my life, I lack the confidence of my husband. He didn’t start riding until his early twenties, but what he lacks in polish, he more than makes up for in comfort and ease with the animals.
I frequently would tag along on guest rides during my afternoons off. One day we found ourselves with just one guest, a 19 year old girl visiting with her dad. Feeling especially mischievous that day he took off across the wash at a gallop and left me and the guest to chase after him. This wash was the dried bones of a river that only showed its surging shores during the monsoon season. All other times of the year the riverbed was a barren sandy path cutting a 100 foot berth through the desert. This stretch of land was the perfect place to race horses and let them loose, galloping against the wind like riders of the old west.
If you know me though, you know that I do not love to go fast. (If this is news to you, please see Why Horse Trainers Are Horrible People I Can’t Live Without) I like to feel in control. There is very little that feels in control when you give a horse his head and let him stretch out his body of driving muscle and just go. You can feel them bunch and then stretch, bunch and stretch, chewing up the earth. I get the beauty in it; I know it should feel magical. But the same response a horse has to sudden noises, my stomach has to letting go and going like hell. It scares the shit out of me. Sadly, even in our budding friendship, my future husband had my number and knew my pride wouldn’t let me wimp out of hauling across the desert. So gallop we did, for what felt like a few miles. The horses were lathered with sweat when we slowed them down.
Still waiting for my heart rate to return to its usual speed, I looked down at my saddle. A piece of leather sticking out from the D ring for the breast collar said “DIE.”
Well, I already thought this ride might kill me, but I didn’t need instruction to do so.
“Why does my saddle say ‘DIE’?” I asked him.
After getting over his initial confusion, he laughed at me and showed me that the piece of leather actually said “WADDIE,” the horse’s name. I just couldn’t see the first three letters the way it was twisted. Every now and then when I’m feeling unsure and worried, we will say this to each other: Why does my saddle say die?
I thank God for my husband. He adds humor to every situation, appropriate or not. You need humor to get through life, and we’ve got humor for sure. From his stories of moose wrangling, rocking a horse out of a bog like a stuck car, to the song he made up about himself (I’m more country than western), I never long for entertainment.
May your saddle never say “DIE.”
May you have a husband who encourages you do things you are afraid to do. Ahem, like take the tram up 4000 feet to the top of Rendezvous Mountain at Teton Village.
And a happy birthday to my husband, 10 years later and we are still chasing our dreams together.