I had the most incredible evening. Told you I was going horseback riding, right?
While I've done my fair share of riding while living in Oklahoma, including 3 day trail rides on the South Canadian River following a covered wagon, I can't say I've ever quite had such a majestic experience as tonight.
I started out headed toward Hocking Hills to meet a friend of the family for the first time. Pulling up over the rickety old wooden bridge had me thinking of Oklahoma immediately, except for the fact that we were in the middle of a humid foggy forest. I met Joy and she is such an amazing woman, the sort of person who has a calming effect on you, ya know? Just very at peace with life. Her home is built on the side of a cliff and even has some sort of fortress castle tower behind it. It was all totally surreal!
I was introduced to the horses and fell completely in love with the creature all over again. She has about 7 or 8 different ones! I'm no expert in the breeds, and I can't remember all of them she named off, but I do remember the one I got to ride because she came from Assateague Island, and was a wild horse there until she was old enough to be auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. Her name is Jaca and she's a Chincoteague Pony.
Joy made me wear a helmet, which is something we just didn't do in Oklahoma, but I complied. She practices a method called Natural Horsemanship, which I found pretty fascinating. You sort of communicate with the horse without really speaking. Such as looking where you want her to go and she goes. Or thinking 'stop' and she stops. I was in awe.
Finally we went riding up through an overgrown path in the forest at twilight while it was lightly raining and mist and fog surrounded us. It was like being in a rainforest! The sounds of the rain falling on the trees over us, the sounds of birds and bugs and untouched nature, the peace it brought. Such a wonderful experience. I'll get better photos next time, as I didn't want to be rude while she was talking to me and I didn't want my camera to spook the horse so these are the only photos I got (Jaca is the third photo down..)