Learning to Ride a Horse: A Beginner’s Story
Learning to Ride a Horse: A Beginner’s Story– Shortly after moving from Boston to Austin, we decided as a family that each of us would try something new in our unfamiliar city. We would all attempt some sort of activity that life in the big city just wouldn’t allow. I signed up for horseback riding lessons the very next morning.
My only experience riding a horse was when I was twelve. That day I broke my leg and was in a cast for the majority of the seventh grade. In the later part of my life, my only experience with horses was backside at the barns behind the racetrack. Most of the time the horses at the barns before big races were very sweet but my fear rose from the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Cairo Prince, who almost bit my face off while trying to get a selfie with him at Palm Meadows.
The day of my first riding lesson finally arrived. I was totally sick to my stomach over it and afraid, but mustered up the strength from the recent loss of my family member. At that time, I could think of ten different reasons why I should just stay home. Yet, as a mom I rarely do anything for myself, so I had to try this experience. My young son was crying dramatically as I pulled out of the driveway to make my way to the stables. As any mom knows, sometimes the crying is so severe it’s just easier to cancel all plans and stay home.
Driving into the stables was relaxing, which could have just been from the absence of a crying child. The big Texan sun was beginning to set and there were animals everywhere. Horses, bulls, peacocks, deer, donkeys, cows and some sort of Emu type animal that I couldn’t identify. I met my teacher and owner of the stables and we got started right away.
I was assigned to Houdini, a handsome horse with sneaky looking eyes. He was so dirty. What had he been doing before I arrived? Obviously mud was involved. While we began to groom him, the teacher told me he had a good roll in the dirt. She taught me how to pick the dirt and stones out of each hoof and brush his coat. Saddling Houdini was complicated to me but we got through it. There was a white horse at the other end of the stable bucking and kicking, which was extremely unnerving and distracting. I imagine saddling a horse takes a great amount of practice and I hope to get the job done by myself in the next few weeks.
Once Houdini was ready, I hopped aboard and my new All-Around Western Boots supplied by Noble Outfitters fit in the stirrups flawlessly. The beautiful boots were a big deal to me. Everyone kept warning me to break the new boots in. I didn’t and I must say they were the most comfortable boots I have ever worn.
Houdini was easy going and made my first lesson a breeze. I didn’t even need to tell him what to do. The old horse knew his job well. We trotted a little and weaved in and out of cones. He knew the drill. I enjoyed the calm ride and was simply grateful to be outside atop a horse while watching the sunset. I felt so happy when I got home. Houdini filled me up with joy. I just hope he enjoyed our date as much as I did.
I paired up with Million Dollar Bill two weeks later for my second lesson. Dollar Bill was bigger than I expected. He was huge! I slowly approached him but understood immediately that he was the sweetest horse that ever lived. He nuzzled me and was happy to have the attention. He seemed to enjoy being groomed tremendously as I learned he suffered from arthritis. It was a stormy afternoon so we focused on the saddling process a little bit more. There were more students in the class this week and everyone was more than happy to help each other out. My boots felt even better this week as I slowly rode Million Dollar Bill around the barns. After my lesson, I gave the horse a bath and the Noble Outfitters boots brushed up nicely, just in time for happy hour with the girls.
There had been so much rain lately that my third and fourth final lesson was combined into one. I had the pleasure of riding Passion, the laziest horse on the planet, and Summer, who was sweet and lovable. The sun was blazing and the horses were a bit hot and lethargic. We worked on basic grooming and saddling skills. My biggest accomplishment came when I was able to groom and saddle Passion all on my own.
After the fourth and final lesson was over, I was excited to sign up for another four weeks. I noticed a decrease in my stress level and felt as if I was getting in a good workout with every horse. I noticed my balance was better by the end too. Most importantly my fear of horses was subdued and I was at ease around them.