Saturday, June 20, 2009

Horseback riding memories

A fellow blogger and a past winner of one of my horse book giveaways, Pam of There is a Horse in My Bubblebath, blogged today about childhood horseback riding memories. Although her post was in response to a giveaway another blogger was doing, it seemed to me like a fantastic idea in its own right.

I haven't mentioned much before about my history — or lack thereof — with horses. I don't have the background that many of my readers have — many of you grew up with horses, maybe even taking lessons and competing as a child.

I, on the other hand, never had any formal training. A family friend, a young woman who was 10 years older than me and rode competitively, taught me how to ride when I was about 12 or 13. I don't remember exactly how many "lessons" I had with her, but I don't think it was very many, as I had to relearn most of it when we started Panama a year and a half ago. Other than that, I've gone on less than half a dozen trail rides — and that was the extent of my horse experience.

I do remember that horseback riding seemed easier when I was a teen — I don't remember even having to think about trying to stay on. Maybe kids have better balance, I don't know.

Anyway, one memory that really demonstrates the difference between riding now and riding then was when the family friend took me to Chatfield Reservoir for my first trail ride. We trailered her horses there, and I rode Tar Baby, her stubborn old mare who preferred Western. Wendy was leading on Toffee, a grey Arab mare who rode English (and the main reason I'm so fond of Arabs — I loved that horse).

Suddenly Wendy announced that there was a log in our path, and we were going to jump it. Of course, I'd never jumped before, but she said just to lean forward and Tar Baby would do the rest of it. She was right, but of course I got the pommel in the gut — not hard, because it was a little jump, but a pommel in the gut nonetheless.

When I think back on it now, I can't even remember how I survived my first jump. Heck, I can't remember how I cantered back then without falling off. (I still have yet to master the canter as an adult, but that's a subject for a future post.) But apparently I not only survived it, but also enjoyed it, because I clearly remember the adrenaline rush and the ecstatic laughter that followed.

Amazing how easily things come to us as children, isn't it?

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