The Horse of My Dreams by Tracy Joy Jones

The Horse of My Dreams

The Horse of My Dreams by Tracy Joy JonesThe cover is here, and it’s so very lovely! It makes me want to get to know those beautiful horses and hope against hope they’d like me too.

My horse story in this beautiful compilation book is a comedic warning against pretending to know more than you do entitled, “Kendall & the Magician.” It’s the story of the time I rode a thoroughbred racehorse at a barrel racing track. As you can imagine, it did not go well.

However, one of my other horse stories bears remembering as well. If you aren’t laughing by the end, then perhaps you had to be there. Although, you’ll probably be glad you weren’t.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Ever have that dream of riding a white horse down the beach? The wind whipping your hair back from your face, the spray of the surf splashing your legs as the horse thunders down the sand. Well, my dream included wearing a white dress and letting my long hair sail behind me.

And once upon a time in Mexico, it almost happened.

The dream was so dear to me that when they announced that there would be horseback riding on my senior trip to Mexico, I immediately started to plan. On the first day there, I bought a dress of white eyelet lace — off shouldered, sinched with a red sash. I had long hair at the time, so that was already a reality. All I needed was to sign up for horseback riding and my dream would be complete.

My stomach flitted with butterflies as I made my way down to the beach late on the appointed afternoon. The few classmates that joined me looked dubiously at my dress. Okay, I’ll admit, I was a little eccentric in high school. Romantics often are. We dream in technicolor when the people around us may only be seeing realistic shades of brown and gray. If you’re a romantic, you might be used to that look by now. The one where people purse their lips, narrow their eyes, the little crease furrowing the space between their eyebrows. I’ve seen it a lot.

On this particular morning, I only remember one friend raising an eyebrow and questioning my dress.

“I have shorts on underneath,” I joyfully answered — as if that explained everything.

And when we got to the beach, there was only one horse for me: the white one.

His belly sagged to his knees, his back swayed as if he’d carried a giant on the last go round. The shade of his coat was closer to yellow, or maybe just a very dingy white. Picture the color of a wash rag that’s been used to clean muddy shoes. He clearly hadn’t been groomed in a very long time. Still, he was white. From a distance, I would still be a woman in a white dress, riding a white horse.

I imagined him like the horses on my new book cover, sparkling in the dawn light. I imagined him when he was young and free. Imagination is a powerful thing. It convinced me I was about to live a dream instead of a joke.

Our guide unenthusiastically helped me mount. The poor man had put in a full day with tourists. He looked as weary as the horses. My horse was at the rear, but that wasn’t a problem. More room to run, I thought with my usual optimism.

It was only as we started plodding that I realized this might not be the moment of my dreams. Not only would my horse not run, he really didn’t want to walk. And there was absolutely nothing I could do, say, kick, or encourage that was going to get him to move one bit faster than the last seven thousand times he’d walked the trail. Down the beach, back through the foothills, treat at the end. And repeat.

At one point, the poor thing was so far behind, dragging his feet as if he just couldn’t lift one more hoof. Yes, I know, poor baby. I feel the compassion now. At the time, I thought it was a great opportunity to get in my galloping moment. He needed to catch up. I needed to feel the experience of running on the beach.

I dug my heels into his distended sides, and yelled “Giddyup!” “Go horsey!” “Vamos!”

Vamos almost worked. The horse surged as if he used to remember the word, I bounced three times on his back and then he remembered he was too tired for this gringo girl. Too tired for anything at all and stopped.

The guide eventually came back to find me and miraculously got the horse going at his usual plodding pace.

And that was it. Once upon a time in Mexico, I “rode” a white horse down the beach (for three steps), wearing a white dress, my hair as tangled as the horse’s mane. And let me assure you, there was nothing in all the world romantic about the experience.

However, it was hysterically funny. It took me a couple of years to realize how funny. Romance is interesting that way. I think it has something to do with our expectations versus our realities. They often don’t line up. You can either remember the disappointment or recognize the humor.

We hope for roses and flowers and white horses and knights in shining armor. Real life looks more like tissues and unpacking the dishwasher, tired evenings, and knights bearing coffee. You have to live in the moment, and not let the last moment keep you from putting on the white dress and going for the next. But most of all, I think the real trick to romance is learning to laugh.

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