Skip to main content

At the starting line as doubt starts to creep in

Mavis Fodness, reporter

As I stood at the starting line of the Celebrity Donkey Races at the county fair, a feeling of doubt came over me.
Doubt that I could even get on this animal’s back.
Doubt that Ex-Lax (the donkey’s stage name) would even want me riding him around the course.
I was wrong to doubt.
When organizers announced that the women riding in Heat 3 were to go counter-clockwise around the course, I gained a little confidence.
As a herd animal, Ex-Lax would feel less likely to follow his herd mates’ actions.
All ready I discovered Ex-Lax would tense and round his back, winding up to buck if I grabbed his mane to mount.
When the race started, I placed my hand across the donkey’s mane and slid my leg over his back. Fully mounted we headed off.
And no buck.
Just a casual walk to the grass side of the course, when he promptly dropped his head and began grazing.
He wouldn’t move.
I anticipated this.
Like a horse, a donkey cannot pass up the sweet taste of green grass.
I slipped off the donkey’s back with the dread that I would eventually have to get back on.
Grabbing the lead rope, I dragged Ex-Lax through the grass area and to the dirt where I pointed him to the finish line.
I slipped on his back and coaxed the reluctant animal forward.
As he drifted toward the grass growing at the side of the cement wall where the grandstands were set up, I pulled his head in the opposite direction.
I crossed the finish line in third.
All I felt was relief, and later, a sense of accomplishment.
Last year I didn’t even get past the first turn.
As I leave my donkey riding days behind me, I’ve turned to another event that leaves me with just as much anxiety as the donkey races did.
In a little less than a month, my horse, Emma, and I will travel to the Twin Cities for the WSCA Championships.
As in the donkey race, one class has me riding Emma bareback.
At the age of 58, I’m thinking I’m too old to do activities with entrants whose ages are closer to age 20.
You’d think I should be old enough to know I don’t have to do these activities.
I’m also old enough to know that I can.
Two years ago I told myself I wasn’t the same high caliber of a rider to even compete at the championships.
But I did.
Doubt had me telling myself that I couldn’t, and I believed it.
Age has taught me that if you want to do something, all you have to do is be prepared.
You can bet Emma and I will be practicing, and we’ll be ready to succeed at yet another activity I started.
There’s no doubt about it.

You must log in to continue reading. Log in or subscribe today.