Wild Horses COULD carry me away

Wild, wild, wild horses.

I like horses. As a kid I was obsessed with them. I LOVED horses. Posters. School supplies. The Saddle Club book series. My Little Ponies. Grand Champions, marketed as the most beautiful horse toy in the world. In 1994, fuel was added to my pony fire when Black Beauty was released from Warner Brothers. And then I discovered the classic National Velvet starring Elizabeth Taylor. I just knew that I, too, could be a jockey if I stayed small and short (it didn’t happen). But for many years I never missed a Kentucky Derby and displayed a Superbowl level enthusiasm for the race, much to the confusion of my classmates.

I grew up on 5 acres adjacent to my grandparent’s 90 acre cattle farm. My family played with the idea of clearing a wooded area to create a pasture to buy me my own pony or horse. But, disappointment of my life, it never happened. Just like the treehouse that was never built. The castle that was going to be made out of cement blocks that stayed on the drawing board. The motorcycle I was going to be allowed to have as a teenager…I could go on.

Anyhow, our next door neighbors had a pasture just yards away from my house and they had horses, cows, goats, and sheep. So, it was almost like having my own horse, because I would pet their’s, talk to them, and feed them sugar cubes. I just never learned to ride.

Sometime in late middle school early high school, I grew out of my rural fascination. It was a great childhood, but I knew that I was probably destined for city life in Atlanta. My attention shifted to things like Star Wars, anime, Bob Dylan, creative writing, art, and The Wallflowers. But the Atlanta plan never happened either, unless you count hanging around Atlanta with my future husband during the undergrad years. During these years, I became very interested in history and for the sake of creative writing, I thought horseback lessons would be good for novel research. Regency, western, and medieval historicals all need horses.

During my one and only semester at abhorred Wesleyan College in Macon, I very much wanted to take Level I horseback riding for said novel research. But the fee was $500 on top of tuition, I didn’t have health insurance, and being newly married to an equally broke medical student, we couldn’t swing the money at the time. Although in hindsight, a broke bone probably would have been a much better experience than the immensely disorganized, waste-of-time classes I did take there. I’ll never forget on my last day, I walked to the stables and petted the horses in the rain. The horses and the library cat were the only things to write home about.

Fast forward some more, and apartment and city life, seriously got us down. It was a combination of things. Mostly lack of privacy. When you grow up as the child of home owners in a rural area, you’re accustom to an outdoor sanctuary. Then add being introverted and naturally a private person to the mix. At first, I took it in stride as an opportunity to grow and this might have been the case if our old neighbors and maintenance workers hadn’t been such creeps. I became constantly aware that we were being watched and eavesdropped on, and with thefts and the violent nature of crimes in Macon, I began to feel very caged in. This place was voted worst city to live in for a reason. There are no parks or libraries in the good part of town to escape to, so in our old neighborhood, we were stuck between cabin fever or creeps. About this time, we attended a panel on Agricultural Tourism at the Decatur Book Festival, and my new daydream of owning my own farm once again, was complete.

IMG_6454But, again, I digress, back to horseback riding. When making the 30 before 30 list, the husband suggested horseback riding. As a kid, he rode horses with his family on vacation and for a long time we intended to make a date as a couple. We decided that this would be the year. Weeks ago, I found a nice corral in North GA and we booked a date and time. We were both excited as kids waiting for Christmas.

The day of the ride, bad news waited for us at the corral. One of their 40+ year old horses was under the weather and had delayed all the scheduled appointments. A large church group was still waiting to ride. There was also a carriage being prepared for a wedding, and when it was ready, the bride wasn’t. We understood the delays and patiently waited as two hours passed. A city-slicker-type lady fell off her horse and had to be drove back to the corral. Then the next group after us, a large birthday party, showed up. It was frustrating, but I really felt for the people there. When I booked the appointment, I didn’t realize that the whole operation was run by volunteers. To my understanding, all the horses were rescued. For volunteers, they handled all the problems exceptionally well and were very kind. I was mainly frustrated that it felt like this was going to be another missed horse opportunity for me. Like, maybe, me and horses, no matter how obsessed I was as a kid, aren’t meant to be. Furthermore, with my husband’s schedule, we are crunched for time for this 30 before 30 list. I envisioned us having to leave after traveling five hours, and never having the time again. But then I tend to over think things. Moreover, we had family with us and I really hated feeling that I was wasting their time for something I wanted to do before I turn 30.

IMG_6463But it worked out and suddenly the horses were ready. Then, I did, what I normally do, I got nervous. I have anxiety, a kind of mix of stage fright for life and performance anxiety due to perfectionism. I know everyone was probably thinking I was crazy. I waited over two hours and then I acted scared of something I wanted to do for years. That’s just me. I kept telling myself if the city church ladies could do it, I could, I’m a farm girl. But then I thought about the one who fell off, a cousin who was kicked in the face by a horse, and an old family tale that an ancestor was thrown from a horse and impaled. As I sat atop the horse, I smiled for photos, but I was really thinking “Oh God, why did I put this on my 30 before 30?” Unlike SkyView Atlanta, this was going to last an hour.

The head volunteer was very kind and comforting through my nervousness. She told me that the horse I was riding was trained by a late friend of hers and that anyone who rides him will be safe because her friend looks down on her horse from Heaven. I thanked her for telling me that, and it did make me feel better. I kept telling myself I was riding the calm Angel horse of the corral.

IMG_6458Midway through the ride, when I calmed down, I really enjoyed myself. Parts of the trail were beautiful and I daydreamed I had traveled through time like Claire from Outlander or was headed Out West or journeying to the neighboring kingdom. It was wonderful for my imagination and a great life experience. When we were back on the ground at the corral, everyone was laughing and in awe of the memory we just made.

Now feeling over the initial fear, I would do it again. We would like to visit the same corral again in the future, but next time I’ll probably book a month in advance and stay at their on-site hotel. I’ve even daydreamed about owning horses again. I could see myself getting into the horse life, with the barn, the attire, and sense of community that goes with it.

IMG_6566It was years in the making, a tough day at the corral, a nerve-racking start, but finally I can cross this one off the list:

16.) Go horse back riding

So, until next time, happy trails to you!


Favorite and Not So Favorite Movies Thus Far

popcorn-600x484I realize that it’s mid-September and I’ve got to get cracking on knocking out some items on the list. For now, I’m trying to focus on the AFI list. Several family members have let me borrow movies and we’ve bought a few. I’ve also sat down and checked which movies are on Netflix, Hulu, and for rent on iTunes. This would be a lot easier if we had cable, but as much as we read and visit family, it doesn’t pay to have a service that we only kinda use. Without a DVR, tv really doesn’t fit our busy lives. The only time we miss cable is when there’s a ballgame we really want to see. ACC and SEC team schools should have an alumni package where you can buy an ESPNU pass to watch your school’s team play per season. But I digress.

So far, the best movies that I’d never seen from the list are:

The General

Sunset Blvd.

KeatonGeneral-frontAs a Southern girl, how had I never seen The General before? With a mix of comedy, action, and history, it really should have been shown in my middle school Georgia history class. The train scenes stand the test of time and are amazing for its day. No CGI needed, just good film making. I kinda have a crush on Buster Keaton now. I definitely want to watch more of his films in the future.

Sunset Blvd. is everything I think an AFI classic movie should be. Great actors, great sets, wonderful cinematography, and plenty of drama. I was only familiar with William Holden from an episode of I Love Lucy. Now I know why Lucy was so ga-ga to meet him. It’s another great movie that caused me to question why I’d never seen it before in all my twenty-nine years.

My not-so-favorite movies:


The Maltese Falcon

Swing Time

Chinatown, well, I’m glad I watched it once, but I’m not fired up to ever watch it again. So sad. I like Jack Nicholson as a villain, probably because as a kid I knew him best as The Joker. As a hero/protagonist he’s a little too intense for my taste.

the-maltese-falcon-1941-humphrey-bogart-with-bird1I like Humphrey Bogart and I should have liked The Maltese Falcon, but I didn’t. I respect that it’s where all the pop culture references about detectives and/or gum shoes comes from. However for me, it was a lot of back and forth with the main character having an attitude of “whatever, babe.”

I bought Swing Time on DVD, feeling that I would really like it. Fred Astaire is wonderful when he sings and dances (minus the black face number), but as an actor he’s just ok for me. The plot was really cheery for all the “being-left-at-the-alter” that happens. Overall, I liked the music better than the plot.

Mixed reactions:

Annie Hall

The Deerhunter

anniehall-outfitsAnnie Hall and The Deerhunter are the latest watches on our list. We kinda dreaded watching Annie Hall and decided to get it over with. No offensive intended, but we are not big city New Yorker types. That world and our world are so far removed from another. I try to be open to all cultures, yet, in the past I’ve had some bad experiences with people who are those types, and movies in this vein serve as a reminder. I guess that means it’s a personal thing. Additionally, in the past, I have failed to see the fuss over Woody Allen. As a kid, I merely knew him as the guy who married his adopted daughter. But, having watched Annie Hall, I get it now. I liked the unique flashbacks and wall breaks between the characters and the audience. I liked Annie’s outfits. Allen’s character is annoying, but he’s intended to be. I don’t plan to rush out and watch more Allen films, but Annie Hall did pleasantly surprise me.

The Deerhunter was also a mixed bag. It has an amazingly long wedding scene. You really feel you are at these people wedding and reception cause it goes on forever. But I like weddings, so that was okay. Robert De Niro needs a beard again, it was cute. However, I had to look away during several of the Vietnam scenes. This probably means I will have a hard time watching the other Vietnam related movies on the list. I don’t look forward to them. But, as much respect as I had for Vietnam veterans before, my respect has grown even more after watching The Deerhunter.

toptenmoviesOur next movie priorities include The GodfatherSinging In The Rain, and Vertigo, so we can knock out the top ten on the AFI list.