I’ve never had any real interest in horses. As a kid I went horse back riding a few times and I had two imaginary horses. One was a white box that I pretended was a horse named Whitey. The other was an invisible horse named Star who I would take with me on walks one summer. When Rocky came along I felt my connection to him wasn’t because he was a horse, but because he was Rocky. But when Stacey offered to treat me to a horseback riding lesson a few weeks ago, I found I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
The strange thing is that I don’t know Stacey that well and although riding has recently become a passion for her, I’m not sure why she thought I’d be interested in taking a lesson. But the really strange thing is that I was interested. It’s not something I even would have considered before she asked me.
So today, in between gardening and having dinner with Stacey and her husband Ed, I found myself taking a horseback riding lesson.
Denise was putting a meatloaf in the oven when we got to her house. She asked me what I wanted to learn and how much experience I had riding. I told her I was there because Stacey had invited me (Denise seemed to understand this completely) and that the last time I was on a horse was for a 3 hour tour of Canyon De Chelly which was extremely painful on the butt. Denise promised there would be no pain in today’s lesson and I immediately felt comfortable with her and trusted her.
We started by grooming the horse I would ride whose name is Chester, then Denise showed me how to put a saddle on him. She told me a bunch of other things too, like the best way to walk around a horse so I wouldn’t get kicked, and how to tell what was going on with a horse by watching his ears, mouth and tail. And how we are constantly communicating with a horse by what we are doing and what we aren’t doing.
Once I was on Chester, I found that I wasn’t a bit nervous or uncomfortable. That it all seemed very natural. I’m sure this had a lot to do with Denise and the way she teaches and that Chester is a really good horse. But I also felt something in me that was different. I knew that it was important that I let this very large animal know that he was going to do what I wanted him to do, not what he wanted to do. That I had to be confident and give very direct and clear messages through my actions and my intentions. And mostly, I was able to do that. I was also aware of my body and what it was doing, trying not to send a confusing signal by telling the horse one thing with my legs and another with my hands which were controlling the reins.
When the lesson was over I had enjoyed it enough to want to try it again. And I also realized that if Denise asked me again what I wanted to learn, I would say that I would like to learn enough to feel confident to ride a horse by myself. I’m not sure if this will ever happen and it’s not something that at this point I have a great desire or yearning for, but I’m finding the whole experience all very interesting and finding myself saying yes to it instead of no.