Yesterday was my first day on top of a horse. During the last semester a classmate of mine vocalized her passion for horses and mentioned how she taught people how to ride. The last day of class, I questioned her if, maybe, just maybe, I could get to ride horses at some point.
I was put on a flecked (flea-bitten was the terminology for the coloring I believe) white and a brown horse that was over twenty years old, complacent and well-trained, named Roger. The week previously when I had checked out the ranch, I noticed him being ridden by six year-old and who which, when being groomed, fell somewhat asleep.
As I climbed aboard old Roger and he walked at a slow pace, I started picking up how to sit, how to hold the reins, how to find my center of balance. Thankfully, I’m not afraid of heights, but I did mention to my classmate, who was teaching me (darn fabulously I might add), “I could see how falling off could be not so happy.” That leads me to need to share this quote I found, which just makes me laugh at just the politeness of the wording:
In the life of every horseman occasions will arise when it is desirable or necessary to leave the saddle in a hurry and without formality.
At one point, I tried to stop him and gave him the signal, pulling the reins, yet also desperately clutched him with my legs, thus telling him to keep going. He stopped and moved his head back to slightly gaze at me. If he were human, he would have rolled his eyes at me.
As Roger meandered on, I got a chance to look at the scenery. It was early morning, the dew was rising from the ground and created a haze between me and the distant mountains. When we came around the the other direction in the arena, a sharp and dark beige bedrock jetted out into the blue sky rising on the other side of the muddy canal that split off from the Rio Grande.
About halfway through when I was getting comfortable with the slow unperturbed walking, my classmate decided that we should move up to second gear, namely the trot. She put Roger on a lunge line, a long leash, and yelled up to me, “Now, you’re going to have your teeth chatter and get knocked about a bit.” Then I was told to cluck and gently move the horse to the next level. In the inhalation of a breath, Roger changed his tempo and like a sack of potatoes I flopped about. I could not contain my hysterical laughter even as I slipped, veered over to one side and grabbed his mane. He immediately sensed that I was just a beginner and stopped. I continued to enjoy unbridled laughter (actually not an intended pun, that) during the trot and I heard my classmate remark to her co-teacher, “This is the usual response to a first time rider riding the trot.” Roger continued back into speed when I was ready and slowly but surely I found my balance, leaning far back into the seat as if I was steering a sparkling El Camino.
Overall, this experience was fantastic. Seeing how this is going to be a regular thing, I hope that I’ll get better at it and perhaps learn something from the art and myself. I found a certain masochism into delving into one’s physical discrepancies. This sounds incredibly negative, but to me, it wasn’t. For example, I learned that even though I’m right-handed, my left side has more strength. I also realized that I am brainwashed by the media in that I kept trying to flap the reins up and down to get him to go.
I sometimes become disappointed in hindsight that my parents did push into “broadening my horizons” when I was little. There was no soccer practice, no play dates, no ballet, or tennis, or community theater. I piddled around quite a bit. I learned instead to be more comfortable in my own skin, probably in detriment to certain social interactions. I do feel though that from that I have a, if sometimes fleeting, grounding of who I am. I think it lets me have better idea how exactly I want to live life. And compared to when I was young, it’s also more likely I can appreciate the beauty of experiences that may have failed to be as sweet as they are now.