I Didn’t Expect to be a Movie Star
My expectations for the day’s horseback riding lesson were that it would either be cancelled due to extreme heat, or just be another typical ride in extreme summer weather. Neither scenario came to pass. Instead, I had a surprise.
I waited all morning for the cancellation text. When it didn’t come, I got ready to ride. I decided to wear a new, white show shirt hoping it would keep me cool. It was dressier than what I would normally wear for a regular lesson, but I decided to wear it anyway.
It was 96 degrees when I arrived at Mane Stream where I’ve been taking adaptive horseback riding lessons for the past 18 years. The minute I walked in the door, I was greeted by Jen, a riding instructor who said, “Hi, we’re going to be filming today. This is Paul and Sue.”
I shook their hands. They were busy getting their camera equipment ready. Jen explained the plan for shooting. Paul would follow me into the mounting area and film the walk up to the outdoor ring where I could show off what I can do.
I sat down to wait for my horse to be tacked up and ready. Staff came and went. Kelly, another instructor, came to fix my hair under my helmet. I told them I didn’t put make up on to ride, but I looked in my purse and found some lip gloss. She suggested I ride without my sunglasses so my face would show. As staff passed and talked to me, I realized what a big part of my life these people had become. I have been around so long I’m like a celebrity there.
Jen loved the ruffles on my show shirt. I told her I wore it on a whim hoping to keep cool. She said she knows I usually wear something nice and was glad she picked today to do the filming.
Paul told me to ignore him. Jen explained they were planning to use the footage at the annual fundraising gala in the fall.
It was very hard to ignore Paul and his camera as he walked backwards in front of me to film my walk into the mounting area. I’m a bit self conscious when people watch me walk. I guess some of the point in filming me walk was to show the awkwardness of my gait compared to my self assurance in the saddle.
He filmed the clumsy mounting process and followed me and the horse as we started walking outside. I sat tall and tried to keep a smile on my face instead of the look of effort from riding. Paul filmed the long walk up to the ring where the lesson would be held.
The ring is in a large, clear field directly in the scorching sun with very little shade just at one edge. The sun beat down unrelentingly on the ring in the 96 degree heat.
Paul hovered outside the ring in the shade while I had my lesson. I’d been working on trotting more since recovering from surgery in the winter. My instructor pushed me to trot figure eights around the entire ring and weave the posts at the trot. I had to repeat this feat after Paul got into a better position to film it. He wanted to shoot it head on so I would be riding toward the camera. I truly felt like a rock star as I trotted in between the poles perfectly.
Paul followed us again as we rode back to the barn. I knew he was getting great footage.
I was covered in sweat when I got off the horse.
I caught the President of Mane Stream out of the corner of my eye when I walked by the office. She was one of the original volunteers 18 years ago when I was scared to death to be on a big horse just a year after I had a stroke. She remembers how scared I was and has followed my progress over many years.
When she leaned in for a hug and kiss, I warned her I was sweaty. She replied she was, too so we could just do the “make-up” kiss. We air kissed and pretended to hug. She wanted to hear about my ride.
If everything goes as planned, my movie debut will be at Mane Stream’s 28th annual EQUUS fundraising gala on October 12th, 2019 where I hope my performance will help raise funds for this worthy cause.