As anyone who knows me knows, I am learning to ride.
A horse, that is.
A bicycle in my youth was challenging but a horse in my ‘mature’ years is altogether a different kettle of fish .
Okay, so metaphors are mixed – apologies to my English teacher.
After a few trails, I am starting to feel like a rider and full of confidence I joyfully accepted an invitation to ride with J, (whom I met on a ride in New Zealand) this weekend. She and I shared much on that trip – a tent, mulled wine (All grown up? Really?), much cider and even more laughter. We also shared hours in the saddle as we rode through Glenorchy back country (Glenorchy Back Country ; No Words.
Flattered and looking forward to our time together I set off to Tooradin to ride and ‘catch up’ with my amazing, funny, strong friend. She just also happens to be an excellent rider and knows horses inside out so to speak.
And there they were, all saddled up and waiting for us,
Beautiful Banjo, J’s horse with a saddle that stepped straight out of the movies
(mind you, he looked as though he did too)
and Ruby, my horse for the morning, with an equally impressive saddle.
It was a Glorious day, full of spring blossoms, sunshine and fields of beautiful grasses designed to give one itchy eyes and runny noses 🙂 🙂 🙂
Ruby’s lovely, I am told.
She will look after you.
She is very easy – her ‘buttons’ are good.
So full confidence I mounted, and followed J on her stunning Banjo.
Needless to say, I did not check on any of these idiosyncrasies before I set off, (after all I am a rider now, so I would work it out 🙂 🙂 🙂 )
(For my non riding friends, horses have a strict ‘hierarchy’ with for whatever reason, some horse deciding they are the ‘Lord of the Manor’ and need to lead, or for equally unfathomable reasons, they have their favourite ‘friend’ and ‘foe’ Furthermore, in a lessons scenario you are in an arena with a ‘teacher’ and a school horse who knows his job is to ‘go round and round’ On a trail you are with a group of horses who always do this and follow each other faithfully. )
You ‘get’ the picture.
And so I was blissfully unaware of the fact that my Ruby didn’t like ‘any horses’ or that her buttons, while good, were carefully coded and not at all ‘obvious’ as I set off with my excellent riding partner J.
Ruby set off at a gentle walk without too much coaxing. In fact we even broke into a sprightly trot without too much trouble. Her ears were always back and she wasn’t as happy as I was on the lovely old race track we were using. She wanted nothing to do with Banjo which made for a trail kind of ride, me in front J behind 🙂 🙂
But we had fun, trotting neatly round the track, once, then twice and then…. at the furtherest end of the track Ruby stopped.
As if the battery cable had been cut.
Just stood there.
Ears back, motionless.
Squeeze, I heard from behind me,
as J instructed me,
squeeze, release, squeeze release.
And so I did, squeezed, released, squeezed released,
till I was covered in sweat and my squeezed and released calves
had no more squeeze in them.
Still Ruby stood impassive.
I tried everything, standing up, sitting down, pulling forward, squeezing backwards, talking, coaxing, yelling – all to no avail.
We were going nowhere.
Did I say I was a rider?
I think I did – but perhaps I am not.
And it would have been so funny, and actually was,
except that Banjo wanted to pass and my dearest patient J did too.
Instead she stayed faithfully with me, reminding me to “squeeze, release”
It was hot, I was sweaty and just as I thought, “well I better dismount and start walking home”-
Ruby starting trotting as if butter wouldn’t melt……….
with no explanation at all.
And back to the stables we went.
Which was when I was told the tricks to find her ‘buttons’ to get her to go somewhere instead of nowhere.
And so we left the stables…..
My ever gracious J fed me lamb and salads, watered me with ciders,
shared her life with me again and sent me home ….
content that I may still learn to ride and actually
go somewhere instead of
standing still and going nowhere.
Perhaps next time 🙂