Since I became a mom I’ve had a recurring nightmare, each time in slightly different settings. It’s always the same. My kid(s) are in danger and no matter how fast I run, no matter how hard I try, it’s like I’m stuck on slow. Like I’m moving through air as thick as molasses. Like time has slowed-down for me with every second a long minute, while  my child in danger exists in a faster time. On Monday my nightmare became reality.

It was a beautiful, perfect Monday. I worked a little. Dane went to school. The teenagers slept in, it is Spring break, and then we all piled into the little bus and headed out to the stables (Pony Therapy; Chin Chin), me, Tess, her friend Mattie, Dane and Jack. Chin Chin was so happy at all the attention!  He got extra brushings, extra treats, a big pile of fresh hay, it couldn’t be better. Everyone was all smiles.

I saddled him up and Tess rode first. He’s always a little feisty and jumpy at first, so I kept him on the lead while we walked out of the stables, and past all the horses in the fields. Soon enough that was behind us, I unclipped him free and we enjoyed the gorgeous German countryside, the first blooms brightening the trees, bushes and grasses all around us.

We switched off riders several times, turning our 45 minute walk into an hour and a half, giving Mattie her first pony, or horse, ride ever! Though, as she pointed out, she had ridden a camel before.  The life of a military child is nothing if not interesting. Dane happily learned to trot as I ran next to Chin Chin for at least 10 meters. And then Tess riding again as we got closer to the stables.  Chin Chin was still full of energy, despite our long walk, and I truly thought he & Tess were ready for the next step.

Instead of heading back to his stall for a rubdown & treats, I led Tess & Chin Chin into the ring. Dane & Mattie got comfortable on the lawn chairs to watch, and Jack plopped down for a nap.  It was a lot of walking for his little legs!

The ring is big. Long. Soft. Sandy. I deliberately kept us at the back end, away from the gate-less front. I stood in the middle and had Tess practice a circle at a walk, then at a trot. I worked on her posture, heels down, hands still.  She was doing so beautifully.  I am so proud of her!

Then I explained how to bring him to a canter, how to turn him, how to stop him.  Chin Chin, however, was being stubborn.  He was having none of it.  I went through everything again, I thought one last try and then we will take him back to his stall, rub him down, give him lots of yummy apple treats.  Everything went smoothly, Tess was smiling, Chin Chin was moving beautifully, I thought:

“Now he will canter for her.” And suddenly, from a gentle trot, he became a pony possessed. Never in a million years would I have guessed he could move that fast. That quickly. That far away from me.  With Tess on his back, holding on for dear life, yelling “WHOOOOOOOA!”

I ran through the sand of the ring, leapt a tall building (um, bush), a fallen tree log, an unused jump, and I did it so slowly.  I could see Tess lose her right foot out of the stirrup, shift to the left, I could see them running into the courtyard, the other horses spooking, Chin Chin’s hoofs now clattering loudly on hard, unforgiving pavement.  And I couldn’t move fast enough to catch them. To catch her.

My heart stopped as 20 meters away Tess fell from Chin Chin onto the hard pavement. Chin Chin spun around and ran right to me. I had him in less than a second. Tess time and my time melding back into regular time.  Everyone else popped out of the woodwork, their stalls, their offices, other horses shied in their stalls. My heart was so loud I heard nothing but it’s roar.  Tess was still on the ground, and I had a scared pony in my hands.

The stable owner, a young woman, came to me and scolded me. It was my fault.  Her father helped Tess up and was kind and gentle.  I took my scolding as Dane & Jack ran up, causing more chaos in every stall.  I gave Mattie the keys to secure both dog & boy in the van. And I saw Tess standing, no tears, no blood, no mangled limbs, and I focused again on the stable owner and her concern for Chin Chin.  Chin Chin who now looked sheepish and sweaty and just wanted a hug as he rested his big head on my shoulder.

Finally, after an eternity, I was able to leave him in her hands and go to Tess.  To touch Tess. To hug her gently and be sure she was okay.  She was fine. She said.  I had her sit down, the old man watching over her, and took Chin Chin back.  Mattie and I walked him back to his stall, me carefully watching him for any limp or injury his wild run may have caused him.

I quickly unsaddled him and gave Mattie instructions to rub him down and give him treats. Mattie happily smiled and complied. She loves Pony Therapy too. I fast walked back to Tess, and took her into the bathroom. I cleaned her scrapes, cooled them down with wet towels, and tested for broken limbs. Sometimes adrenaline masks the pain from a break. She seemed fine. She insisted she was fine.  And we both went to hug Chin Chin one last time, collect Mattie and head back home.

Since Monday night, I know it’s only two nights but I’m waking up frequently, my recurring nightmare is back.  Multiple times a night. The reality that I move as fast in real life as I do in my dreams is haunting me.


Pony therapy goes both ways


Happy pony. Happy rider.


Something is not quite right here. Can you spot it?


Sheep therapy


Hello. How are you today?