I remember that first ride atop Robusto. When they saddled him up Western at my instruction, his forelocks remained rooted to the packed dirt of the show ring, while his hind legs pranced. This made mounting him a moving target.
I got my right foot in the stirrup just fine. But as I hoisted my left leg and upper body over his back to settle in my seat, that dance became a bit of a buck. The stable hand holding the reins tightened his grip and yanked so the bit in the stallion’s mouth wrenched. The hand at the back, however, could only raise and lower his arms in an attempt to calm the beast. I dismounted clumsily, tangled in the tack, and stumbled, landing square on my ass.
Robusto quieted some then, as if satisfied with his handiwork and my throbbing shame. This calming and my pained pride lured me into a second attempt. To increase my chances of success this time, I laid my torso against his neck and slid into position, as much to lower my center of gravity as to convince the horse to let me onboard. I foolishly believed allowing him to feel the pounding of my heart would win him over.
Instead, he reared, bouncing my crotch back hard against the lip of the saddle. I dug my knees into his sides, though, and clutched at his silky mane. As soon I claimed the reins, I pulled back and down, driving that beautiful animal to put all four hooves firmly on the ground. He was mine.
I eased him into a trot; Robusto fought me. I increased his pace to a cantor; still, he strained against my hand. His flanks shuddered with a desire to exercise his full power. So I let him loose to gallop. He accelerated, his legs defying gravity, all four lifted in motion like that horse in the Muybridge photographs. He was so freaking fast, he left my body behind. I fell flat on my back. And I was his.