Recently, my mother took us to a dude ranch.
The first day you are assigned a horse and instructed how to make it go, stop, turn left and right. You are also told NOT TO LET YOUR HORSE EAT while on the trails. Apparently , the horses know when they have a new rider and will test them to see how many tree leaves they can chomp along the way. We were told some tree leaves can make the horses sick and some can even be fatal! It is imperative that you set the “no snacking” boundary Day 1 or the entire week will be a battle.
I was assigned the gorgeous Palomino, Dreamer, white with brown spots, shiny and well-behaved. I was proud and excited to hit the trails with her.
Eventually the novelty of being atop such a large, powerful beast waned as the relaxing Bowm-ba-deeda-bowm-ba-dee-da of the trail ride was constantly interrupted by Dreamer stopping to munch tree branches flanking the trail.
I would forcefully yank the reigns, I mean really yank, to pull her head away from these low hanging temptations. I felt like I was pulling the bit through the back of her skull, but she’d thrash her head in protest, Guess what, Cowgirl, I’m eating this maple leaf.
I wanted to do as instructed, but I also wanted Dreamer to like me. I didn’t want to fight. What’s so bad about one little maple leaf (or 4)? But, then it occurred to me: this gorgeous creature out on the trail, surrounded by deliciously tempting treats, some harmful, some less so, is not unlike any one of us walking down the aisles of a convenient store, a grocery store, an airport, or the streets of Manhattan. We are all inundated by food options. Some healthy, some quite harmful.
Despite being yanked on week after week, Dreamer continued to sample the goods, but there was a notable difference in her once she knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Too bad we don’t have someone jerking our reigns to keep us from unhealthy noshing. Or maybe that’s what I’m trying to do here.