I did It! I had my first official horse riding lesson, and it felt amazing!
I wasn’t sure what to expect; I thought I’d look odd as an adult with little to no knowledge of horseback riding taking a lesson at a riding school. I thought I’d be on a lunge line or, even worse, I worried I’d have to have a theory lesson before going near a horse.
I am overly punctual; I turn up to things at least 15mins early; otherwise, I get incredibly anxious I will be late. I hate feeling like I’m holding people up, letting them down or disappointing them. I’ve always been this way. So there I am, parking at the riding school, 20 minutes before my lesson is due to start, buzzed but nervous as hell. I must have looked like such a rookie, strolling up to a young girl grooming a horse with my boot back covered in dogs (Such an unusual pattern choice for a bag that could only be used for riding boots), asking where the reception was. I picked up my hire hat (I’m waiting for mine to arrive in the shop.) and sat in the waiting area next to the arena.
As I sat there, sliding on my boots, I watched the current lesson that was going on. A woman in her early 20s was riding a horse called Mable, and although she was only trotting around the arena, I was in awe of how in control she was. I wanted that, and it set my little passion pilot light ablaze. I was sure how it would work, whether I’d be riding Mable during my lesson or if Mable belonged to this woman personally, as my school also doubled as a livery. As the class ended, I got ready to take my place.
My instructor, we’ll call her A as I haven’t asked her permission to use her name in my blogs yet, invited me into the arena via a hidden gate in the fence… of course I would fumble with this. It would become one of those medial tasks I now overthink and look back with cringe and dread. Once I’d mastered the gate, A introduced me to Humphrey, a HUGE gelding with a sizeable belly. Having only sat on Bow, Humphrey’s ‘girth’ caught me surprised, and as soon as I sat in the saddle, my legs began to ache. I explained to A that I’d had very little exposure to horses and to treat me like a newcomer to pony club, so she instructed me to get Humphrey into a good marching walk… without a lunge line!
I gave my boy a squeeze with both legs, and like that, we were off. A commented on my smile as we circled the arena, all the while trying to keep Humphrey on the track that lined the edge. I learnt the basics to rein length (Something B had tried to teach me during our taster session, but I hadn’t understood), and after we’d done a few circuits, A asked me if I wanted to trot. She warned me that because Humphrey is a big boy, he has a particularly ‘bouncy’ trot, and I’d need to get used to his rhythm first. Todo this, I was instructed to grip the front of my saddle to steady myself, and on A’s command, Humphrey went from a walk to trot. And it was indeed bouncy. We managed a few strides of me sitting in trot before we introduced the motion of ‘Rising Trot’, a motion B had tried to teach me on our taster session, but I’d only mastered a couple of rises before my legs would give out. This time, while holding the saddle, I managed a couple more strides, and Humphrey was very responsive and tolerant.
Before I knew it, my half-hour lesson was over. I dismounted, elated and buzzing for my next lesson. This was the moment I knew I wanted to take horse riding seriously. Not the occasional lesson here or there but weekly, committed lessons to work my way up, learn horse care and bond with Humphrey more. This is the moment the hobby became a passion.