One of my childhood obsessions was horses. I loved them. I remember watching the movie Black Beauty over and over and daydreaming about having a real horse. I would pretend that my that my toy ‘rockin rider’ spring horse and I were jumping over fences and poles like I would see on TV. Almost all of my artwork that I would bring home from school would involve a drawing of a horse.
After I shared this childhood sentiment with Jeremy he always encouraged me to go and ride with my friend Jessica, who had recently started taking lessons. I always loved the idea of really learning how to ride, but somehow, something always seemed to get in the way. Now that I am older it seems that I never make time, nor do I plan any activities for myself. I guess I just feel like I have a long “to do” list that I needs to get done right then and there. Well, a couple of days ago, Jer took it upon himself to set me up with the same trainer that Jessica uses! It was a sweet surprise and I was touched by his gesture to get me to get out there and do something that he knew I had been wanting to do for so long.
So off I went! After arriving at the stables this morning Michelle, my new trainer, approached me cheerfully with her smile and her striking blue eyes. She offered a strong handshake and asked me about my riding experience. I consider myself somewhat confident in certain scenarios, however, this was an arena where I didn’t want her to assume I knew anything. Being around an animal with that stature, that could pretty much trample me down is something that humbled me greatly! With that being said, I was quick to inform her that most of my riding time has been on guided trail rides.
One of the first things Michelle had me do was meet my horse. Down the barn hall we went, horses on either side peering their heads through their stable door, checking out who was walking by. Then we approached my horse, his name was Secret. Crunching on hay, he lifted his head up. “He is a good size for you”, Michelle stated. Michelle started the training with showing me how I would be placing the halter over Secret’s head. Seemed simple enough. “Go ahead”, she offered. Secret continued to rip strands of hay out of his net feeder. My first thought was “How do I get him to stop eating and let me put this thing around his head? Will he become territorial about his food like dogs do?” Michelle assured me that all I needed to do was duck under his neck so that I would be on his right side and then simply slip the halter in place. “It’s not up to him, its up to you. You are the boss”, Michelle instructed. I sorta froze. As much as I have always loved horses, I found myself hesitant for fear of the unknown. I took a big breath, with confidence I told myself "Just do it" and I quickly slithered under his neck just as she coached. Yes. Fear #1 averted. I glanced at Jeremy who flashed me a reassuring smile and nodded his head as if he knew I could do it. The rest of the riding lesson went on. When Michelle asked me if I've ever trotted before, I explained to her that yes, in fact, I had. But it was more like me getting tossed around like a rag doll more than it was anything else! Michelle's coaching gained me a slew of insight and facilitated a confident environment for learning. With her guidance I went from being uptight and tensed up to more fluid and smooth, as I learned the correct way to trot. I even matched Secret's gait for about 30 seconds, no more rag doll! Of course I have a long ways to go, and lots to learn! Michelle also impressed on me the importance of not only riding, but also caring for the animal itself. From cleaning out his hooves, to brushing out his coat and washing his legs down after the session. I cannot wait to have another riding lesson!