So, how did the horse riding lesson go for me on Thursday, you might ask? It was positively “Breezy.”
Breezy is a beautiful palomino quarter horse mare who lives out at the indoor riding arena where my lovely wife Amy and I each went for a lesson Thursday — hooking up our horse trailer and loading Amy’s Arabian-quarter cross mare Cheyenne so she could work out some kinks with that mount in English style, while I rode Western on Breezy.
It was a blast. Breezy made it relatively … breezy.
Ashley, Amy’s friend who owns Breezy and taught both of us the lessons, gave us all a good workout. The horses will be stiff and sore, and we would be stiff and sore after doing the riding. My legs and glute muscles were already feeling it right after the ride, and today … well, actually, the only sore muscles are around the groin area (not surprising after an hour in the saddle) and in my abdomen. Riding a horse the right way definitely works the “core” muscles.
My legs were actually quivering from the workout they received as we stood by the horse trailer, brushing Cheyenne down when it was all over for the day. But it’s a good feeling.
As I said yesterday, I have ridden horses before, even going at a full gallop. But now I have a much better knowledge of and respect for how to get and keep your balance on the back of a horse.
Walking is an absolute piece of cake. But for the first time ever, Amy saw me trotting on a horse. And that wasn’t bad all by itself, as long as I could grip with my legs and I was “in the flow” with Breezy. It was switching directions as you’re trotting that gave me a whole new respect for the kind of balance that’s necessary. That was a different feeling, but I managed.
I also gained a whole new respect for maintaining a level of communication with and getting to know the horse while on her back. Ashley tipped me to paying attention to when the horse seems to be starting to get “lazy,” slowing down when she’s in a walk or a trot, and giving her the proper responses when she does — whether it’s a little kick to the side or a clicking sound with the mouth. I picked up on it quickly enough.
Reining was a relative breeze, except for keeping them gathered together at the right length at first. But then I got that figured out as time went on, with Ashley’s guidance.
Getting Breezy to stop — easy. Just sitting back, pulling back on some shortened reins, and a firm “Whoa!”
It was so fun, I hated to get off. When I was done trotting Breezy, Ashley had me walk her around the outer part of arena a couple of times and then bring her back to the middle.
I was filled with confidence, resting my fist on my hip like a cowboy would. The only thing I was missing was our pair of spurs and my Australian duster riding coat. I ended the lesson from the saddle with some praise for Breezy, some firm pats on her neck and shoulders, and a lot of petting. Yeah, horses really do like that.
After all, humans like words of praise and a pat on the back after they’re finished with some hard work, don’t they? Why should horses be any different? They, like humans, like praise a lot better than a kick in the derriere, whether it’s physical or verbal. It makes horses and humans more productive. And there are some humans who could learn that lesson a bit more themselves.
After we drove away from the riding arena and got back to unload Cheyenne to be with her buddies, Amy and I headed for our own home. My lovely wife was so excited to see me on a horse, and to see me trotting on a horse, her hand was visibly shaking.
And this is just the beginning. I have farther to go in order to fully “cowboy up,” and I’m genuinely looking forward to the next go-round.
Yep, this was a GOOOD TIME!
- Getting serious about the phrase “cowboy up” (viewfrommiddleclass.wordpress.com)