How I Frightened Anxiety Away

A Sherman Colins Disorder Prevention Tail

My only joyous early childhood memory is of seven minutes of sheer terror.

It occurred during a family vacation at a resort in the Amish country.

Within a hours of our arrival in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, my mother and grandmother sniffed quaint boutiques in town and promptly disappeared.

My dad took my older brother and I over to a stable that was on the premises. Convinced that I was the next Annie Oakley, my dad presented me to the manager as an expert rider.

I cowered.

The manager, a wizened man with unruly, gray hair and approximately one tooth left in his head, sized me up.

He vanished and returned with Sparky, a small, rotund paint pony. I figured that if I could handle a huge horse like Sunshine, this would be easy.

For my dad and brother, the manager came back with two senior horses, clearly annoyed that they were being denied hay to carry two more idiots on their backs.

Almost as soon as we hit the trail, Sparky signaled his eagerness to trot. I relaxed my hands on the reins, and let him go.

Meanwhile, my dad and brother, aboard the two horses that had now resolved to move at a resentful snail’s pace, slipped out of view.

I settled Sparky back into a walk, so we could enjoy the crisp fall air, colorful foliage and quiet contemplation of the natural forces running the Universe.

Sparky had other outdoor activity ideas:

Searching for a sand trap, he spotted an opening in the chain link fence that separated our circular trail from a nine-hole golf course.

Before I knew what was happening, he bolted thru.

I realized that my feet had lost the stirrups, and instinctively grabbed the saddle horn and a fistful of mane. I also leaned forward, clinging to Sparky’s neck to protect against wind shear.

We were flying down the 7th fairway, but everything seemed to be unfolding in slow motion.

My entire being was focused on not becoming the lead story in the followng day’s Amish Enquirer.

On the 9th green, presumably to line up a putt, Sparky came to an abrupt halt.

It took me a few minutes to catch my breath.

Once I did, however, a feeling swept over me much like the one I imagined Sir Edmund Hillary having when he returned safely to base camp.

A triumphant feeling.

I saw the stable manager stumbling toward us with a concerned expression on his face.

I dismounted to show him that I was okay.

“You ruined the horse,” he said. Then, he grabbed Sparky’s reins and led him back to the barn.

Standing there, trembling with my mouth agape, I subconsciously realized that I had found my life’s calling.

If I ever grew up to be the first person in the country awarded disability benefits for an essentially unknown chronic illness, I vowed that I would use Medium to educate adults about the proper handling of delicate daredevils like myself.

Well, Sherman Colins Kids, miracles do happen. Just the other day, forty years after my “The Amish Incident ” epiphany, I shot this video:

Spending quiet time with animals is my favorite thing to do.

My mom also loves animals, so when I visited her that afternoon, I showed her the second video I shot that day:

Hershey searching for kisses

After viewing this, my mom and I started reminiscing about “The Amish Incident,” which has pretty much become part of Aron family lore.

She said that after that experience, she thought I would never get back on a horse again. She thought it would be too frightening for me.

It occurred to me that getting off had been the frightening part.

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