Author and Advocate for Healthy Sexuality and Spirituality


Losing Control of the Reigns

After twelve years of living in the concrete jungle of Dallas, Texas, I was ready for a change.  A log cabin home on 122 acres of land was just the cure for our traffic-weary souls.  As I envisioned what country life would be like, I became obsessed with one thing — riding horses!   I frequently pictured myself atop a dapple gray mare, galloping through wildflower-laden fields bursting with color, the wind whipping through my hair, like a scene out of a movie.  


Once we were settled in our country home, we noticed that our neighbor’s pasture was lit up like a professional ballpark every Thursday night.  Curious, we ventured over to introduce ourselves one evening, and I almost did a backflip when I realized that the lights were illuminating their own rodeo arena!   Bob and Lisa owned a slew of horses, training calf ropers and barrel racers as a hobby, as well as breeding horses professionally for a living.  Imagine my delight the day that Bob asked, “Would you mind taking care of my horses for a few days while we’re in New Mexico?  You can throw a saddle on one and take her for a ride whenever you want.”  Gee, Bob.  Twist my arm. 


Bob and Lisa hadn’t been gone half an hour before I called my friend and ecstatically exclaimed, “Come over and ride horses with us!”  Katie brought her three kids, and the seven of us took turns all afternoon riding Yeller, the only horse we managed to catch.


With the sun creeping further west, we knew it was time to hang up our reigns and call it a day.  Katie offered me the last ride, and I enthusiastically mounted Yeller with the expectation that all my equestrian dreams were about to come to fruition.  We started off at a turtle pace, but with a double click of my tongue in the roof of my mouth, I coaxed Yeller into a slightly higher gear.  We trotted for a few moments, but I wanted more.  I wanted wind in my face.  So I let out my best “heeyaa!” and buried the heel of my boots in Yeller’s belly.  Suddenly, we were off and running at break-neck speed, my hair flapping in rhythm with every thunderous gallop.  I was basking in the exhilaration of it all, but then my basking turned to bewilderment as the horizon suddenly tilted sideways and the sky went black. 


After several seconds of unconsciousness, I awoke to the realization that my saddle had slid sideways, dumping me face first onto the dirt, and dragging me for several yards before the stirrup loosened its death grip on my foot.  I remember my desperation the moment I realized that the reigns were no longer in my hands.  Without a firm grip on that harness, there was absolutely no way to control that horse.  I thought I was taking Yeller for the ride of my life, but she almost took me for the last ride of my life. 


Our sex drive holds a similar power.  On the one hand, it can add great passion and pleasure to our lives, satisfying our deepest needs for intimate connection, and fulfilling our wildest dreams.  On the other hand, it also holds the power to create enormous pain and fear, turning our lives into a living nightmare if we fail to keep a tight hold on the reigns. 


by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2008.  All Rights Reserved. Published by Random House Inc, New York, NY. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.