My sister Shannon has always taken the Bible’s red-letter words very seriously, but the outcome has never been as funny as it was in this story.
Shannon and I took horseback riding lessons one summer from one of Dad’s patients, a very sweet and knowledgeable woman named Mary Anne. We would travel up to her farm once a week and learn how to saddle up the horses, ride English style, and wear thin all the muscles in our inner thighs in our attempts to post. Mary Anne would stand in the center of a training ring while Shannon and I would ride in circles, listening to her commands.
My favorite horse was General Lee, not only because he had the sweetest disposition, but also because Mary Anne told me she had given him that name because he was general-ly good. I thought that sounded quite clever.
One day Mary Anne was letting us rest a bit as the horses lazily plodded around the ring, and she took that time to widen our understanding of the world of competitive horse showing. She told us what shows were like and how the most experienced riders and horses performed. One of her comments made a big impression on both of us. She said, “Some horses are so sensitive to their riders’ movements that if the rider puts just a little more weight on one cheek than the other, the horse will turn that direction.”
We were duly impressed. Silence fell among us as both of us pondered the significance of that statement. I was recalled out of my reverie by hearing Mary Anne shriek with laughter as she called out, “Not that cheek!” I looked over at Shannon to see what had provoked this remark. With all her might, Shannon was doing her best to get her horse to turn by protruding her tongue as hard as she could into the side of her mouth.
If I am fully honest, I have to admit that I too was confused by Mary Anne’s remark. In our family, “cheek” was not the word we used for that piece of anatomy. If she had just said “rump”, “behind”, or “bottom”, we would have caught on right away. However, until Mary Anne clarified exactly which cheek she was referring to, Shannon was left to conclude that the horse she was riding was obviously not very well trained.