Monday, 19 November 2012

In which I rediscover a passion

Horses are like crack.

I say that never having been in proximity to crack, much less having taken the stuff. But from what I hear, it makes you feel rather delicious and is both expensive and highly addictive. Which makes “horses are like crack” a rather fitting simile.

I’d been slightly concerned that I would have forgotten absolutely everything I learnt during my pony-mad childhood when I turned up at the stables last week for my first lesson in over a decade, or that the love I’d had for everything equine might have left me, and that I’d hop on board and decide the whole process was too terrifying for words.

But, oh! How unfounded those fears turned out to be.

I performed as graceless a mount as you’d expect onto a 16hh beast from someone vastly inflexible, wearing decidedly unforgiving jeans, and who’s still the wrong side of 5’4”. But that was my only wobble.

Once I was on board, the niggles left. Everything felt right: the feel of the horse under the saddle; the way his ears twitched as he tried to make sense of the decidedly rusty signals I was giving him. And once I’d nudged him into a canter, I was completely and utterly at home. At the end of my hour, giving him his head and leaning down to breathe in the heady scent of hotly sweaty horse as I patted his neck, I was in love all over again, re-bitten by the horsey bug, with absolutely no idea what could have possessed me to give up in the first place.

So much of the sheer unadulterated joy comes from the completely unparalleled feeling of making a connection with a horse, but I was reminded that the people involved do their bit too.

I’d not really forgotten it, but my lesson also reaffirmed to me how brilliant horsey people are. It’s a special mix of kind and encouraging, whilst being completely straight-talking and entirely no-nonsense that everyone, everywhere, in all industries and businesses, could learn much from.

“It would just be lovely to get my technique back up to scratch,” I said to my instructor – fittingly, as I happened to be attempting a woefully basic 20m circle (right rein: fine. Left rein: might as well have asked for a half pass on the moon. Still not entirely sure what happened). “It would be great to be able to ride out with friends without being an embarrassment!”

“Oh you’re not an embarrassment,” she said reassuringly, in the most matter-of-fact manner that I’ve heard in forever. “You’re perfectly competent, you’ve just picked up some very bad habits. You sit too far forward in your saddle, and need to keep your legs pushed back. But it’s fine – we can get you out of them. Next time, I’m taking away your stirrups.”

And that was that. Love rekindled. Addiction acquired.


Sprinkled Words (former Miss Milk) said...

I am jealous beyond words. Definitely doing this when I'm a financially secure grown up.

theperpetualspiral said...

That's it. Between you and Kat Brown both posting about riding again, I'm getting back on the saddle too.

Blonde said...

Sprinkled Words: I HIGHLY recommend it. The feeling is like nothing else.

TPS: Do it, do it, do it!

Mud said...

I am SO pleased you enjoyed it. Next time I'm living somewhere within traipsing distance of a horse I am getting back in the saddle.

I've kept riding occasionally since I stopped regularly and still get that wonderful rush of 'horse'. May I tentatively suggest you consider a holiday with a riding element? A safari on horseback has to be experienced to be believed!

Blonde said...

Mud: It's an incredible experience, isn't it? And a horseback safari in Botswana has been at the top of my holiday list for so many years - the cash is the only thing putting me off. A week's pony trekking in Wales would be more affordable, but sadly doesn't have quite the same appeal...

Redbookish said...

Oh lovely, lovely. It sounds wonderful! And what a sensible instructor.

Let me know when you get to do a rising trot sans stirrups, with your instructor watching eagle eyed just to make sure your legs from knee to ankle/foot Do Not Move.

Actually, I always found that easier than riding with my arms folded, and reins forbidden.

Brennig said...

Fifteen minutes of walk, trot and canter on each rein is excellent for regaining ones seat.

rennbird said...

Ahh you did it. You've made me want to get back in the saddle!

Blonde said...

Red: She's a cracker. I love her. I am NOT looking forward to non-stirrup work. Would always rather do non-rein stuff.

Brennig: That is an excellent tip, thank you.

Renn: I did. Do it - it's amazing.

Jennifer said...

Love love LOVE that you're getting back into riding - go you! I really miss it, but I doubt getting back up on a horse is in my near future (funds, distance, etc.). Looking forward to more posts about your lessons.

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