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.