Riding Diaries, Lesson 1

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I took horseback riding lessons – and was on a horse for the first time at that – today. Oakey is who you see above. =)

I can’t exactly say I’ve always wanted to ride a horse. In fact, I’ve been more scared about the idea more than anything. After hearing about people getting thrown off and paralyzed, or kicked, or whatever it was, it wasn’t exactly my idea of fun adventure.

Something has drawn me to the idea recently though. I don’t really know what it is other than that I feel like I’m meant to do it. So here we are.

There’s been an equestrian center near my house that I’ve passed by for years, since high school in fact. I never thought much of it but stopped in last Saturday. The grounds were much more extensive than I realized. Set against the mountains in the back with a stream and major power lines on the other, I didn’t realize what world I would soon be entering.

There were so many stables! Maybe 20 horses at least. I made eye contact with some of them and immediately felt connected. I spoke with the instructor and set the first lesson.

Fast forward to today. I showed up and we went through all the basics. How to enter a stable, understanding that horses are actually fearful creatures, not dangerous as I’ve assumed them to be all these years. They are also very playful. 800 pounds and some major height makes that a very interesting combination.

What my teacher taught and told me today (I’m typing this here in the hopes that I can remember as much as possible since you don’t exactly sit there and take notes):

  • They think humans are perfect – they will do as you motion them to, to the T
  • You need to be assertive with them – not aggressive
  • They don’t like things happening to them from behind because they will sense danger (i.e. predator) – you have to always start from the front and move backward
  • A halter is what goes around the horse’s head and neck area with a rope to take the horse out of the stable
  • A bridle is what is put on with the bit (which fits in the gap in their mouth between their small and big teeth – I didn’t even know they had a gap), with the reins attached
  • You clean the hooves before riding to make sure there are no rocks
  • Brushing off shedding hair and what not is important in the saddle area because you want to make sure the horse is comfortable (same reason as with the hooves)
  • Even though the reins are one strap, you hold it like two straps
  • When sitting on top of the horse, you need to keep your core strong and stay balanced, no slouching or leaning too much left or right
  • When tying a horse, use a slip knot so that the horse can’t get away but that you can loosen the rope quickly and easily if needed
  • Never twist ropes and reins through your fingers
  • Horses think animals with close set eyes are predators – they have wide set eyes – ours are close

What struck me the most, though, was that I thought I would be learning more about the horse. I am, yet somehow I feel I am learning a lot about myself. I somehow see a lot of myself in the horses, even though it’s only been one day so far. Fearful and playful. This is going to be interesting to say the least.

It’s one of those moments when you know you’re afraid, but you know you’ve also been through enough afraid moments to know that it won’t stop you – in fact perhaps it will nudge you even further to explore what’s there.

My instructor also mentioned that there are tours in Europe where you can go horseback riding to castles and what not. I wonder if I could learn in time to go in the summer. We’ll see.

I am thoroughly, truly captivated. I felt like something was opened within me today. Something was born. I have no idea where this is going to lead me, yet I can’t wait to see either.

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