Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The horsey set

Age 12: When I was growing up, despite having quite a few "My Little Ponies" strewn around my room, I somehow managed to duck the love affair little girls are supposed to have for horses. And living in a suburb of LA meant that you didn't get access to horses unless you consciously sought them out. So the first time I sat on a real live horse was at Girl Scout camp. We went on a trail ride, and I somehow managed to get the only yellow helmet when everyone else's was blue or pink. This allowed the instructor an easy hook to constantly shout at "girl in the yellow helmet" to "get your horse moving!" Something a novice horserider is apparently innately supposed to know how to do. It, like many things at that Girl Scout camp, was not much fun.

Age 24: A bunch of my grad school classmates are hanging around DC post-graduation and pre-starting jobs. Someone gets the idea of going on a trail ride in the mountains of Virginia - its horsey area was maybe an hour and a half from DC - so a couple of dozen of us head out. Now, a lot of my classmates were extremely wealthy Europeans (seriously - there was one who was closely related to his country's royalty) and clearly had grown up doing the equestrian thing. I however had not. So the trail ride was far beyond my capabilities and well within all of theirs. Not the most exciting trip for all concerned.

Age 24, again: A few of us decide that by god, we WILL enjoy ourselves on horseback. Along those lines, we go back for another horse ride. Despite our having warned the horse stable people that we were all newbies and had no idea what we were doing, we got yelled at for riding the horses incorrectly.

Age 33: Hey, can you guess what I did yesterday?

I am a little leery around horses now, as they are very large animals and let's face it, I have scant experience in getting animals to do what I want (the plight of a cat owner). But I figure that I live in Texas, and hence I *should* learn how to ride a horse. The Texan agrees, but suggested that we get lessons in English saddle, as Western saddle requires little of a rider. He's got quite a lot of experience of the latter and none of the former, so this was supposed to be something fun for us to do together.

We arrived at the stable last night and The Texan got right on his horse to start immediately working on trotting. I however need a little more help. Like, in getting on the horse.

I had watched other people doing it and it seemed pretty obvious. Climb up the steps, put your left foot in the stirrup, swing your right leg over. Easy-peasy. Unless, of course, you swing a little too vigorously and the momentum carries you over the horse and right onto your unsuspecting instructor. I had feared I would fall off the horse but I honestly didn't expect it to be the first thing I did. I did try it again, a little more cautiously this time, and managed to stay on, much to my instructor (who was very sweet about the whole thing)'s relief. But I'd twisted my back first-off, which made the straight posture horse-riding entails quite difficult. I was happy to get off the horse at the end of the 30-minute lesson.

We will be going back, though, as I am sure that this is something that will get less scary and painful with experience. Or if it doesn't, I will at least know I tried.


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