What Bertha Taught Me

Photo by Ivy Son from Pexels


Taking a trail ride on a horse provides a distinctive lens to view the mountains that cannot be captured on the walking paths or roadways.


My trips West over the course of my life have given me more than one experience with this and in each case, the views were breathtaking and the horse fortunately knew the way to go and what it needed to do.


On my last trip to Yellowstone I had the prospect of taking one more such ride. I was not deterred by my age or the reality it had been thirty years since I had tried such a venture. That’s how I tend to approach adventures that peak my interest after spending a childhood where I was often too timid to try much of anything.


The morning came and the guide had chosen Bertha to be the mount for me. I still have no idea how a specific horse is chosen for a specific person. Bertha was named such as a result of her size, B-I-G! Her head was enormous and I could never have gotten on the saddle without the wooden platform and steps placed beside her for me to use.


As always, we were given only a few basic instructions. Be sure to hold the reins and pull back on the reins when you want the horse to stop. Don’t let the horse eat along the way. Check.




IMG_2578After all, horses used for such trail rides are trained and know the drill. I had also been assured that Bertha was not a young skittish mare that would be tempted to bolt or buck.


With all those basics under my belt, Bertha and I set out following the guide at the head of a long line of other riders. Bertha was doing well except for her temptation to eat along the way.


Fifteen minutes into the ride, our trek ventured down a slope to a small stream littered with rocks. Rocks were on either bank of the stream as well. Bertha started down the slope and into the stream stepping as carefully as she seemed to know to do. Suddenly she tripped and immediately dropped on her front knees into the water!


Wait!! No one gave me instruction for this! I know we signed a release about various things that could happen, but no one expected any of those things would.


As Bertha fell to her knees quickly, the time for me seemed to be happening in slow motion. I recognized that she was leaning to her left side and appeared to be going completely down beyond her knees. My reaction prompted me to try to get my left foot out of the stirrup as quickly as I could so my leg would not be pinned beneath her. I managed it just in time and my left foot found a fairly secure spot on which to land.


Next was that other foot and lifting my leg across the saddle as I felt Bertha steadily going all the way down. That was going pretty well also, but as my right foot hit the rocks it slipped into the water and then I lost my balance and there I was with my knees banging against the rocks, my left hand down in the stream and my right hand hanging onto one of the rocks, my body sprawled in the mix.

Photo by Bas Masseus from Pexels


Bertha seemed totally at ease! It dawned on me that it was almost as if she knew to go down just slowly enough after losing her footing to give me a chance to get off safely.


By now everyone was scrambling to find out if I was really okay or hurt in some way that might not be apparent. One guide was helping me up while another was helping Bertha.


I was given a choice to go back to the ranch or to continue for the two-hour ride. Since I was fairly certain I was largely unharmed save some bruises and a scrapped knee, I chose to continue on the ride.


Despite the fall, Bertha taught me I could trust her, that she knew her job was to carry me safely from the beginning of the trip to the end. I didn’t need to be the expert! She was! She knew the path!


Bertha also taught me something else.


In my life there is One who knows the path, is the Expert. He can carry me from the beginning to the end and I can trust that.


17 thoughts on “What Bertha Taught Me

  1. So glad this story had a happy ending. I’m rather intimidated by animals (especially big ones..named Bertha!) but I know so many that have learned such rich lessons through God’s creatures. I often wish I was brave enough to trust them more. No doubt, there is a lesson in just that:)

  2. Pam, I am so glad that you were not terribly injured. And horses really are amazing creatures. I once fell off a horse riding through the Red Rock Canyon on Las Vegas. Your slow motion description of the fall was so similar to mine. However, my horse did not lose footing, my saddle slipped…starting slowly and then getting quicker. The horse seemed to stop in her tracks as she knew I was about to go down and she didn’t want to be moving to make my fall worse. Certainly, she felt my saddle slipping but there was nothing either of us could do (I had only ever ridden a horse once before), and I took quite the tumble down the side of the canyon landing on my back in a cactus. I was pretty bruised up with cactus thorns stuck every where, but I also continued on my journey to the end…trusting the horse and the process all the way through. Great post.


    1. Me too!! Your horse story is fascinating too! It appears that horses are pretty incredible animals whose abilities and skills are really not understood or known by a novice like me. I have only ridden them on trail rides in the mountains of the western or eastern United States a few times.

      Thanks for your gracious words as always!

      Have a great week!

  3. Goodness me, I am glad you are Ok.

    I noticed you have linked up 2 blog posts for #lifethisweek In my rules it is one per blogger.

    I will leave the second one there for now and hope you will link up again but just one!

    Thank you.


    1. Thanks so much!

      I’m sorry I put up a second one. I wasn’t paying close enough attention. Thanks for calling it to my attention 😊

  4. Sounds like you were a trooper and glad it wasn’t serious. I was watching my daughter ride her horse one day in a shallow pond and he decided it was hot and wanted to roll. I was glad she got her foot out of the stirrup quickly. She hung on and made him get up before an entire roll. love horses and your story but my favorite line is the last one. Saw this on the Tuesday Turn About Link party.

  5. That mus have been scary, but you held on and Bertha carried you safely the rest of the way. You are absolutely right, there’s a great lesson there.
    Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party, and have a wonderful week.

    1. It was indeed!! Great to see and hear from you, Teresa! I no longer receive your party notification via email so I went looking for you! Hope you are doing well!

  6. Wow! I’m glad you weren’t seriously hurt by that fall, Pam. You were brave to literally get back on the horse again. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this lesson that God knows the path, beginning to end, and he can be trusted.

    1. Me too, Lisa! Well, I was there with our daughter, son-in-law, and four grandchildren and I didn’t want to have them think I couldn’t handle it😂 Glad you saw the point of the story as well!!♥️

  7. Good for you that you got back on, Pam! Yes, even if we have falls on the way, we can trust the One who knows the path and can carry us from the beginning to the end. Blessings to you!

  8. I love this Mom and remember it SO well, particularly the grace and calm with which you navigated that situation and then went on! And by golly… you finished the ride. God was/is good to provide during the an anticipated of life!

    1. Thanks, sweetheart! It was a day to treasure with all of you and Bertha made it a day none of us will ever forget!!

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