Alexis is one of our local riders and writers as well as a 4-H member!
“Easy boy, easy. Don’t worry, we’ll make it out alive.” I doubted my own words. Llotto, my hot-headed Arabian horse, was steadily heading down to the bottom of the mountain, away from the lightning. Mom and I had gone out for a nice ride but instead we had ended up trying to get away from giant bolts of electricity coming out of the clouds. This is horrible, could our ride get any worse? I thought in my head. I had no clue that our ride was about to get a lot worse.
As we were riding close to the bottom of the hill, I heard a loud sound behind us. The sound was like a freight train thundering through the woods. I started to panic. It’s a giant truck that’s going to hit us, HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! “Mom, what is that noise?” I said, trying not to let mom know how scared I was. “It’s hail, keep moving, we’re almost to the bottom of the hill.” It was too late. Suddenly, the roaring was right over our heads. The sky was pouring dippin dots except they didn’t have any flavor and they really hurt. The hail was so thick that I could hardly see five feet away. We trudged through in a desperate attempt to get to shelter.
We finally reached the bottom of the hill and took cover under some trees. We were soaking wet just from the hail. It was then when I realized that I had no protection from the hail; I was wearing a short-sleeve shirt and had forgotten my jacket. Sure, call me stupid for forgetting my coat, but I thought it was only going to be a short ride and was looking forward to riding Llotto, completely not thinking of myself. (That’s how us horse people are). My mom noticed the problem too. “Here, take my coat, you need it more than me” she told me. Usually I don’t like putting on a coat, but this was a crisis; I was terrified. I put on the coat and shivered. I tried my best to protect the horse’s heads from the pounding hail by holding my back to the wind and letting our horses put their heads down next to my chest. Mom’s horse, Grady, had wide, terrified eyes and was snuggling in close. “It’s Okay; we’re fine and going to make it back to the barn” I told them.
It was sometime later when the hail wore itself out. “Mom, should we try to get home while the hail has stopped? ” I asked. “Yes, that’s a good idea” she replied. We led the horses out of the trees and into the open again. As soon as we started to walk, it started to rain. At least it’s not hailing. I thought. As soon as I thought that I wanted to take it back. It was pouring now and coming down so hard it felt like hail. But this, this was cold, hard, soaking us and scary!
We reached our dirt road and mom stepped out into the road. “I’ll lead us through this mud on foot” she said. I really think that “mud” is the wrong word. I would put it more like “two and a half feet of water flowing at 100 miles per hour down the road.” It is way more realistic than “mud”. Well, mom thought that is was mud until she stepped into it and sunk up to her knees in water. The hail that had fallen earlier was covering the top of the flowing water, making it look like solid ground. Through the rain, it was really hard to see. Mom turned around and lifted me onto Llotto, despite the lightning. “We are going to have to ride home” Mom said. “NO!” I thought, ” Llotto is scared of mud and stream crossings! How will we ever get home?”
“Okay, we need to stay to the side of the road and try to avoid the water” Mom said. I was still shivering from the cold and pure terror. I could tell that Llotto was also really scared. “It’s fine; just water.” I felt that I was assuring myself more than him. Above us, lightning flashed and thunder boomed. “We have to get home!” Mom yelled over the sound of water and sky. We stayed out of the water as best we could. Finally, we got to the main part of the dirt road and waded through the rushing water. The lightning was so bad now that we were forced to canter or be killed trying to get home. “What! Are you crazy! ” I thought when mom told me we had to run (It is very dangerous for a horse and rider to run on wet ground; for they could slip and get seriously injured). Well, here we go! I thought as we took off. Llotto kept his footing as he cantered. We’re going to die, we’re going to die, I thought over and over.
We slowed at the narrow trail next to the road. “Do you want cover or to get home faster?” Mom asked.Suddenly an enormous flash of electricity struck over our heads. We had just been missed by the biggest lightning strike I had ever seen. We looked at each other and I said “HOME!” We bolted as fast as the lightning that had come from the sky.
We came to a stop at the field right next to our property, the way in. Dripping wet, mom opened the gate to our property and told me, “you dismount and go to the house and I will take care of the horses, don’t worry yourself. ” Of course I was worried about them, but there was no time to talk. As I ran to the house I saw that our pond that had been empty when we left was now full. There was a river running down our driveway and into the pond. Once in the house I stood shivering by the glass door, watching the pond fill up outside and dripping freezing water, forming my own puddle on the floor.
When mom came in from caring for the horses, I hugged her as she handed me a warm hat to put on. “You know mom,” I said, “Llotto really helped me. He stayed calm and listened to me instead of totally freaking out like I thought he would.” Mom responded, “That is because you’ve built a great relationship with each other. He looks to you for leadership and out there he was trusting you to get him home safe.” “Yeah he sure did.” I whispered. “He saved my life.”