Horse Riding – Day 13
Now, otters - I love a good otter. A horse not so much, which is odd for most people to understand, as I live in the country and am surrounded by them. I have never been on a horse and am suspicious of them as a species. I’m not good with heights and as I’ve remembered on my challenge so far, I have very little to no balance. This is my 13th challenge and I’m hoping it isn’t an omen of doom.
With my activities so far, I’ve gone to publically available classes or clubs where I try things out, then write about how I get on and maybe inspire a few people to give it a go. In this particular situation, I’m so nervous about getting on a horse that I wanted a friendly face to help me along, so I went to see my friend, Nina. I often see Nina clopping along past my window, chatting to other riders and seemingly having a good old time, so she seems perfectly qualified to take on my equine issues.
When I arrived at Nina’s stable, she introduced me to her horse Spot. Spot is a big, 18-year-old, white horse, who adopts a long-suffering, disinterested look when I speak to him. It soon becomes apparent why Spot looks like this: his neighbour Gem farts…a lot! I have seen enough programmes, films and cartoons to know that horses like apples, so I brought one along to help with the bonding process. I only brought one, so I halved it, meaning Spot and Gem could both have a piece. I held my hand out for them to indulge. Spot chewed it monotonously. Gem gobbled it up and then farted.
Nina put the saddle on Spot and a hat on me and led out Spot to a step, where I was to get ready to mount him. I put my foot in the stirrup but didn’t feel brave enough to swing my leg over, so I grasped the fence and once I felt my leg was over, I removed my hands. Nina told me to breathe. Apparently, it was important to Spot that he felt I was breathing. I adopted a pre-childbirth fast panting and I gripped the reins with my white knuckles glowing.
When I visit adventure parks with the family, I refuse to go on the high, adrenaline pumping rides and encourage the kids to come with me on the teacups. So, there I was on top of a horse for the first time and I could feel my heart racing and the irrational fear of falling entering my head. As Nina led us out and turned to shut the gates, all I could do was cling on for dear life, breathe/pant and try not to scream. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it all. Nina coaxed me to relax, maintain a good posture and try and sit back into the saddle. At this point, Spot started getting annoyed with the flies and was swishing his tail and giving his head a bit of a shake. I felt a bit sick.
Nina led us out onto the country road. She reassured me Spot was fine in traffic and there was nothing to worry about. Spot trotted on and seemed wholly disinterested in what was going on and didn’t react as I apologised to him for having such a fat arse. I loosened my grip on the reins slightly and could see the blood returning to my hands. My heart rate slowed as I started to overcome my initial panic. We went on further and although I was relaxing more, I was keen to turn back. We’d all had a good time, I’d been on a horse and had a picture to prove it, plus we’d done enough to write about it. However, Nina suggested we do the loop, which meant we had only done a third of the way.
I mutely nodded my assent to the idea and we continued. The more I rode, the more comfortable I became. Spot was a right old character. Like me going for a run, he slowed to a standstill when there was any kind of incline and I felt confident enough to tap him with both legs to go forward. Apart from a small wobble towards the end, we got back to the stable safely. I resumed the clinging onto the fence to dismount and then spent a couple of minutes walking like John Wayne as my muscles relaxed. I said goodbye to Spot, but I am not sure he heard me as he looked like he had gone to sleep.
It feels kind of good to face your fears a little bit – not sure if I would do it again but at least I can say that I have done it. As it turns out, I didn’t have a fear of horses; it is my fear of heights which made me not want to go on a horse. I thanked Nina for my adventure and quickly exited as Gem looked like he was brewing one again!
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