I stood tall on a Gypsy Vanner, in the ocean. What an experience! I have to say that I had to face my fear to do it, and I did. My boyfriend and I were visiting my mother in Florida and we were on our way to Anna Maria Island for lunch on the beach. As we were driving, enjoying the view of the ocean surrounding us, we passed a truck and a horse trailer parked on the side of the road.  Outside, tied to the trailer, were black and white Gypsy Vanners.  

I had to stop. I had to find out who owned them and why they were there, by the ocean. The company that owned the horses was CPonies, www.cponies.com, and they offer rides in the ocean. We had to do this and made our reservation for the next day, excited for a new adventure.

Getting ready to ride, without my cowboy boots, dressed in a swimsuit, seems very unnatural for this cowgirl, but they asked that we come ready to get wet and no boots needed. I came with every intention to run like the wind down the ocean sand. I had this picture of my hair blowing in the wind, the drumming of the gypsy hoofs, splashing water off the sand and into the air, making this beautiful picture. I had my mom come and was ready to capture the moment. Boy, did I have it all completely wrong.

We had six in our group, mounted and ready to go for a ride. My surprise was when, instead of running down the beach, our path was straight out into the water. We weren’t going to ride by the ocean, we were going to ride in the ocean, deep enough that the horses had to swim, while we held on and floated with them on their backs. What a great experience. My horse was making all sorts of noises, singing as I called it, though it sounded more like a moan – I like the thought of him singing better.  

The leader of the group was taking pictures and she had the first couple stand on their horses and pose, arms stretched out wide. My stomach dropped. How can I do that? I knew my boyfriend and I were next. Cliff had no fear, stood up arms out, waiting for the photo shoot, and here I was, slowly working myself to a standing position. I couldn’t do it. I was half up, but I didn’t dare to completely let go and stand. We took the picture of Cliff standing tall and me squatting, one arm stretched, and the other holding tight to the horn of the saddle.

I was disappointed in myself. I wanted to stand. I sat there for a bit and without the whole gang looking at me, I faced my fear, and this time I let go of the horn, pulled myself up and stood, long enough to have our leader take a quick picture. I did it! I didn’t want to be disappointed in myself and I know myself well enough to know that if I didn’t stand, I would leave wishing I’d have tried harder. So, I said, F**k it and I did it. And I walked away proud that I had the courage to face my fear.

How many times have you tried once to do something, and said “I can’t” and simply given up, walked away, then beat yourself up, wishing you had tried again. Fear is a strong emotion. Fear stops me dead in my tracks way too often. I stayed drunk for years, fearful of facing who I would become without the drink. Fear also gave me the courage to get help. If you are scared and don’t know what to do to get help, please feel free to contact me. I might not know all the answers, but I will do all that I can to lead you in the right direction, so you can stand tall and face your fears with courage and strength to become all that you can be. Make yourself a priority today and we will see you in the barn.