Riding lesson no. 1

After last week’s frustrating time with medical secretaries and trying to get my medical consent form signed [until I had that in my hot little hand I couldn’t ride] I was well and truly champing at the bit for my FIRST LESSON of the term on Tuesday.  I’ve missed two lessons because of paperwork, but there’s another class I can go to during the week, on Thursdays, so I can have extra lessons to make up the missed ones.  Wahey!

So Tuesday was my first lesson; I was all dressed and ready to go.  Black eventer’s helmet, check; horse-frightening black jods, check; riding gloves, check but not required yet, also in this heat my hands would be swimming in sweat in thirty seconds; jodhpur boots, required – I borrowed a pair for the lesson and am off to buy a nice wee pair of jodhpur boots today.  Lashings of SPF 30+ sunscreen, check.  Dad picked me up and drove me out to the stable …

AND I HAD THE BESTEST, MOST WONDERFUL TIME EVER !!! [!!!]

. . . . . . . . . .

The centre is about twenty minutes drive straight down the freeway; on days I can’t get a lift from my dad I can catch the train to the nearest station and cab from there [or cab the whole way if I’m being lazy].  It is set in a bush / park / reserve so you can take the horses on short trail rides as well as working in the arena or on the sports oval.

It is run totally by volunteers, and funding for the horses, feed, gear, trained coaches et al comes from small government grants, sponsorship from organisations and individuals, and fund-raising events.  It’s a very social atmosphere, everyone seems to know one another and be very relaxed and have lots of fun.  The social element is emphasised to develop the kids’ [and adults!] social skills and confidence.  While most of the riders are kids, there are a few young adults and not-so-young adults [not looking at anyone in particular … *whistle*].  They didn’t believe me when I told them I was 38, I had to show them my drivers’ licence to prove it [which is a nice boost to the self-esteem; and the first of a few that day].

The horses are mostly donated or leased, and many are older horses enjoying semi-retirement with daily walks and activities to keep busy and add interest to their days.  They are kept in half-open stalls, and there are lovely green paddocks for turn-out – still green at this time of year, too, very impressive.  They all look to be in great condition from good food, grooming, work and lots and lots of attention and TLC.  Not a bad place to retire, if you were a horse …

There are a few accredited coaches, at various levels and ages.  My coach on Tuesday was a sweet, fun, petite young woman in her twenties, who was also a competition eventer and worked for a training stable.  Sounds like a pretty full schedule to me; she obviously loves her various jobs and relishes the work and skills she’s gaining.  Oh, she’s learning vaulting too, and schooling a new horse to be the centre’s vaulting horse.  If I wasn’t so talented at wobbling off-balance and falling off things, I’d give that a go.  From reading Kimberley over at I Gallop On, vaulting looks to be great fun and good exercise.

. . . . . . . . . .

So … the lesson.  My horse for the day was a 15 hh chestnut called Gus, who I was told was very old, stubborn, lazy and grumpy [but not actually aggressive, of course; also very gentle and an excellent “babysitter” for all the grumpy attitude].  I didn’t care; as I mounted from the mounting block, I knew I was going to enjoy myself.  He was very stand-offish at first and ignored my advances and pats.  Throughout the lesson though I talked to him and patted and scratched his neck and withers, and rubbed his shoulders, and by the time I dismounted he was gazing at me with a lovely soft eye and nuzzled my shoulder.  Awwww … I made a conquest, apparently, because he’s pissy to just about everybody!

It felt so wonderful to be up on a horse again, I couldn’t stop grinning like a maniac the entire hour.  We started with the four of us in the class [two kids being led with side-walkers, me and another girl who was also “flying solo”] having a little walk around the oval and through trees before lining up to do various exercises – think Pilates and yoga – on horseback.  That was fun, and my ongoing work with Pilates and other floor-work exercises definitely fits in with this kind of physical therapy.  Then we returned to the arena to work on activities pretty much on our own, at our own speed.

Gus did try it on, and at first was very lazy and stubborn, but soon worked out that I was the one in control here [or at least trying very hard to give that impression!].  After a lot of leg-work from me, and the occasional wave of a crop – I didn’t need to tap him with it even though the coach suggested it – I got him moving forward really nicely.  His ears were pricked forward and then flicking back to listen to me as I chatted away.  By the end we were doing some almost-round 20 metre circles and he was bending and flexing around my inside leg.  I worked damn hard, but oh, so much fun!

One thing I’d forgotten was how much there is to think about, all at the same time.  Position of legs and hands, legs held still against the horse’s sides and placed to maximise contact and pressure; posture with shoulders back but relaxed, back straight, pelvic core and abs held tight, tail-bone tucked under to avoid a sway back; maintaining contact with the horse’s mouth while still keeping a loose rein; toes up and calves and heels stretched down; chin up and looking ahead through the horse’s ears … Whew.  I know that after a while all that becomes automatic, and then there are new things to remember and focus on, but at first it seems like just as you’ve got the pelvic core and back right, your toes have slipped and are pointing down … Aaiieeee.

One thing that pleased me almost as much as being up on a horse again, were the comments and reactions to my riding.  Do you know, I’m actually GOOD AT SOMETHING !!!  Wonders will never cease … When I told the coach and a couple of the leaders that I hadn’t actually ridden regularly for twenty years, they didn’t believe me.  Apparently I looked pretty good up there, with a really good deep seat and communication skills, and did very well for a first lesson.  The coach even apologised, halfway through, for giving me Gus, and said that she’d give me one of the more responsive, younger horses next week.  How ‘bout that? 

So I can’t wait for next Tuesday.  I might even try trotting!  [I know, I know; I didn’t go out of a walk – but it was a very fast, controlled walk and I still worked hard to get that nice forward rounded movement.  Also Gus is too old to be pushed too much.]  I’m also going to do some volunteering; they want me to help write / produce the quarterly newsletter, and also help out with grooming, tacking up, also maybe training to be a leader or side walker.

. . . . . . . . . .

An interesting point that occurred to me after the lesson was how much I’ve learned about riding and communicating with horses from reading my favourite horsie blogs.  I wonder if I would have been as aware of all those things – posture, position, using legs, working the horse around the inside leg, maintaining contact and so on – if I hadn’t been doing my “homework” for the past couple of months.  I do hope I won’t be exposed as a fraud, and that I really don’t know any of that stuff!

[Mind you it did all seem to come quite naturally and felt easy and smooth; I wasn’t walking like John Wayne the nest day either!  A little muscle stiffness from unaccustomed usage, but the “good” kind of soreness, from honest exercise, not pointless muscle spasms and blinding pain.]

Whatever, I must thank Sue of Flying Changes for getting me so excited, motivated and thinking wistfully of riding lessons again;  Tracey at Desperate Horsewife and Mustang Diaries;  Kimberley of I Gallop On; Sarah of Scary’s West for inspiring me even though I will never have such skills;  Mikey of The Horseshoeing Housewife, for ditto … and all the others over there in the sidebar.  And particularly to Matt of Road To Who Knows Where who showed me what’s possible and gave me the idea of hooking up with the RDA [Riding for the Disabled Association – motto “Riding Develops Ability” – I love that].

. . . . . . . . . .

The big question is:  Is horse-riding as good as sex?  Hmmm … Well since I have the most amazing, incredible, mind-blowing sex on a frequent basis, I’d have to say No.  But it is definitely similar, in that the inner thighs and pelvic core get a real work-out, and the rhythm of moving with the horse particularly at a canter, is not unlike making lurve [“… and you know that pelvic thru-u-u-ust, really drives me insay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ane …”].

Come to think if it, given their cultural and traditional love of horses, it is hardly surprising that the Irish slang for a sexy and attractive fella or girl is “ride” [except it’s pronounced “roide”]; as in “jaysis, what a ride!”.  It also refers to the act itself, as in “ennny chonce of a roide, loike?”

. . . . . . . . . .

NB:  I’ve added a new favourite to my Links – Make Up, Beauty Blogs, Guilty Pleasures; The Make Up & Beauty Blog.  A new find, though Karen has been blogging for a while.  I really enjoy her vivacious writing style, honesty in product reviews and great sense of humour.  Her Face Of The Day posts and How-To’s are inspiring and educational; blog design and graphics are fun and eye-catching.  She’s also a MAC girl – what’s not to love?

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Comments

  • Scary  On Sunday 9 March 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Good for you! I was so excited for you reading through that post. As for the is horseriding as good as sex part….when I was a wee teenager, um let me think about this a minute, well I must have been watching a show I wasn’t supposed to, because I defo didn’t have access to or desire for dirty magazines. Anyway this porn star was on the show and she said she had her first big OOOOOOh riding her horse bareback and naked. A very wierd memory, but your question triggered it.

  • Desperate Horsewife  On Tuesday 11 March 2008 at 12:34 am

    Hooray!!

    As for being as good as sex…well, it does last longer, lol! I was at a lesson a couple of weeks ago where I got to ride a cutting horse and work the Hydra Bull. The trainer told me afterwards for a woman my age (what does he mean by that???) working the bull is nearly as good as sex =)

    Scary…bareback and naked? How gross! That just makes me think icky, icky and clamp the knees in tight, lol!

  • I Gallop On  On Wednesday 12 March 2008 at 7:22 am

    That is so cool. 😉

    About the sex part, well, there is something thrilling about having 1,700 pounds of rip and snort between one’s legs!

    Pax. Kimberly

  • otterkat  On Wednesday 12 March 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Yay, thanks for your comments, guys! [gals / ladies]. I’m so pleased [& amazed] you got through the whole post!

    Hey Scary – Its nice to hear that the excitement & pleasure of the moment came across – its probably quite boring to non-horse-people who don’t ‘get it’.

    Funny, re the porn star having her first orgasm riding a horse, I remember hearing something of the sort too. All I can say is, her non-equine partners obviously weren’t doing the right thing! But I can see how it’s possible … the rubbing, contact, rhythm etc etc … Oh, it gets TOO porny! [It is biological fact of course that losing one’s technical virginity – ie breaking of the hymen – whilst horse riding is not uncommon. See also; bicycles, gymnastics et al].

    Tracey – Hello & thank you! What did the trainer MEAN about ‘women [our] age”? Everyone KNOWS we [women & sex with] get better with maturity / experience. Harrumph. Sounds like he’s full of [hydraulic-powered?] bull. Hee.

    As for comparing sex & [horse] riding – well, a horse-riding lesson lasts *only* an hour, & is basically *only* one position, so … snerk, snigger, smirk … I wonder what the comparative calorie burn-off is?

    Kimberley – Thank you for visiting; pax et bono! Hmm yes, there is something definitely sensual & powerful & therefore, a major turn-on, about all that muscle & power & energy …. Um what’s the time & when does my husband get home from work???

  • Sue  On Thursday 13 March 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Yay! And thanks for the call out!

    Well done you! And I didn’t trot in my first lesson either, so give yourself some breathing room. I look back now and think, damn, I’ve come pretty far!

    PS Your recent comment on my blog has inspired a post, re: equestrian couture, if you like, and I’ll be writing up in the next few days.

  • Child Medical Consent Form  On Tuesday 26 January 2010 at 2:54 pm

    I looked pretty good up there, with a really good deep seat and communication skills, and did very well for a first lesson.

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