Sometimes it helps to have friends in the industry. A good friend and colleague of mine happen to own a horse, a lovely boy I’ve met a few times over the years called Bow.
My friend B and I have been going on what I like to call ‘Chat and Hacks’ for a couple of years now, where I would walk beside her and Bow while they hacked out, and I’ve always found their presence to be very calming and enjoyable. When B learnt that I was interested in dipping my toes in the equestrian pond, she kindly offered to give me a little taster session so that I didn’t look like a complete novice at my first private lesson. This was an offer I could not refuse, and boy, did I have a great day.
I said to B straight off the bat that I had no issues getting my hands dirty and that I wanted to learn all aspects of horse care as well as learning to ride, so to ease me in, we collected Bow from the field and began giving him a good ol’ brush down. We used two different brushes, but I can’t remember what they were called. I think one was for dirt and one for loose hair… don’t quote me on that. Next, B taught me how to clean Bow’s hooves. I was a bit anxious about this because there is always a fear of getting kicked, and I was conscious of giving Bow the wrong signal by accident. Luckily, He was very patient, and his hooves required minimal cleaning. Next, we tacked up, fitting Bow with his bridle, bit and saddle before we put on our boots and headed to the schooling arena.
Just a quick note on my boots here. Boots were the only thing my school didn’t provide but would need for my first lesson. A quick google search will show you that decent boots will set you back at least £80-£100. I didn’t want to spend that much, so I started browsing second-hand websites, and within a couple of days, I’d bagged myself a beautiful, well-looked-after pair of long, black Shire riding boots complete with boot shapers and a carry bag. The price? £35 for the lot! And they are great boots. So thank you to that eBay seller who will probably never read this post.
In the school, B taught me how to get on a horse and to go with Bows movements as she guided him around with the help of a lunge line (A lunge line is a piece of rope that attaches to the horse’s bridle and a trainer on the ground. They are mainly used to aid new riders and gives the trainer more control over the horse). Just sitting on Bow made me smile from ear to ear. This was something I’d wanted to do for my whole life, and I’d finally done it. I didn’t care if I was moving or not; I was elated.
As Bow started to walk around in a circle, I relaxed into my seat and just went with his body moments. This was quite enjoyable, and I felt like a cowgirl in the Wild West. After walking for a little while, B tried to introduce me to trotting and subsequently ’Rising Trot’. The rising trot is a unique and challenging movement to master when the rider rises out of the saddle while the Horses front right leg is off the ground. That is my basic explanation. I could go into Diagonals but then it all gets abit more complicated and I’m still learning myself. We do rising trot to take some of the pressure off the horse’s back as we ride, and to be honest; it’s more comfortable for us. I’ve been told that it can be quite difficult to master but once you get it, you get it.
So I’m holding my reins (in hind sight, I now realise that my reins were far too long and I would have had little control of Bows head), Bow speeds up into a trot and I start bouncing and jiggling all over the place. B is calling from the centre ”Up, down, up, down” to prompt my movements and I do try. I learnt very quickly that rising trot is quite a strenuous and speedy activity but it was clear I didn’t feel safe and we came to a halt. B decided we should try again, but this time I’m to hold Bows neck strap and not his reins. This does work better for me and I’m able to focus a bit more on my movements. At several points I rise on the wrong diagonal which bloody hurts but towards the end, for a few strides, I got the rhythm and boy, does it feel good when you get it. You suddenly feel so in sync with the horse.
30mins was all I could do before my legs decided to give up, so I dismounted, letting B ride Bow while we went on our ’Chat and Hack’.
I think it’s safe to say that a new passion has just been ignited in my soul. I loved this little taster session, and I can’t wait for my actual lessons to start now. Massive thank you to B for showing me the ropes and letting me learn on her horse, and Thank you, Bow, for tolerating all my mixed signals and just lousy riding.
Let’s see what lesson #1 brings!