What Horse YOU Gonna Ride in 2017?
“Remember what I told you,” the old man calls out to me, as he heads back towards camp with the other horses.
I’m 12 years old on a summer trip from the East Coast, visiting my grandfather in Utah. We’ve taken his horses high up into the Rocky Mountains for a week-long camping trip.
“Don’t you dare try to ride that horse!” he orders…
I look at him. World War II veteran. Multi-millionaire entrepreneur. Patriarch of a very large and growing family. Farmer. Cowboy. Self-made Man. Part of “The Greatest Generation”.
I’d told him I wanted to stay at the river a while longer with my horse, and he’d let me.
“It’s not a good idea to ride a horse when it has a full belly of water, and that young horse has never been ridden bareback before. So don’t get any funny ideas. Just walk him straight back to camp.”
But he knows me. Of all his 25 grandchildren, I’m the troublemaker, the rabble rouser.
I’m the one who chases his sheep around the farm in his go-cart, doing my best to lasso them and then ride them. I ain’t no country kid like the rest of his grandkids, and I’m gonna prove I can cowboy up just like the rest of em!
(Looking back now, he must have known what I was gonna do! And he still left me alone with that horse. My kind of teacher!)
I wait for him to disappear around the bend of the trail, and then I look at this beast. Slowly I place my hand on its ribcage and feel its heart beating through its huge body… Or is it my own heart beating?
I’m gonna be the first one to ride this beast bareback, the biggest of the lot! Gramps doesn’t think I can do it. We’ll see about that!
I imagine myself taming this beast and riding him back to camp, just like they do in the movies! They’ll see I aint no ‘city slicker.’
I pull the beast over to the largest rock I can find.
The horse turns his head to the side and his eye locks with mine–as if to say, What the hell do you think you’re gonna do?
I’m gonna ride you!
I climb onto the rock, steady the beast, take a deep inhale, and… launch myself onto his back!
I’m riding bareback! Hi ho silver, away!
In that very moment he rears up his hind legs, jolts forward, throws me somersaulting through the air.
I land sideways on a rock, breaking my ankle clean through.
My grandfather punished me by not taking me to the hospital, and letting me hobble around on a broken ankle for a month. But obedience is not the lesson I learned.
When I returned to the East Coast, my mother took me to the hospital to discover the bone was broken clean through. She was furious.
But I wore that cast like a badge of courage!
I’d dared to ride that giant, unbroken horse. And my spirit remained unbroken.
30 years have past and I’m still riding wild beasts that promise freedom and adventure…. metaphorically speaking.
The next horse I’m riding? I’m creating something I’m calling The Free Man Experience.
One month in South East Asia with a group of Free Men. Together we’ll explore the new dimensions of living wild and free.
We’ll reconnect with our deepest longings, desires and dreams–to the wild beasts that we want to ride!
And we’ll walk up next to those beasts that make our heart beat. We’ll make new leaps, and do our best to hang on!
What’s the beast you’ll be riding in 2017? Does it involve world travel? Let me know in the comments below: