Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Barn

My kinda horse.
I landed in at Galloway Stables in Linden looking for my friend, Gail, because I had a book for her, Marjorie Simmin's new book, Year of the Horse. I'd already told both Gail and Marjorie that this book had ignited those long-dormant longings to ride that I had a child, longings buried because of the inviolable fact of my mother's allergies to horses.
"This is for you," I said to Gail after I'd slipped into the arena where she was riding her beloved sweetie, Earli-Bird.
"This is for you!" she replied as she dismounted and handed me her riding helmet.
Is that what it's called - a helmet? I have so much to learn!
And learn I will because this is going to happen again, folks. Funny that after my year in 4H, when I thought that maybe, with the riding stables so close, maybe I could take a few lessons, maybe I could learn to be comfortable around and on a horse...that the following year, two very horsey women would come into my life.

What struck me first, and last, actually, is the movement of the horse underneath me. I was sitting on Earli and he started to move -- and suddenly, I'm swaying on top of him because there's a rolling undulation to a horse's walk that puts you off balance if you aren't expecting it. If you've never been on a horse before, you don't know what to expect! It makes me glad I do yoga because all I had to do was engage my core, and "Relax!" as Gail commanded, and suddenly, my body became part of the horse's movement.
Which is an essential experience because as I now know, you control the horse's movements using pressure from your legs, even your buttocks, so if I clench my thighs for balance, the horse will respond to that pressure. Gail smacked my thighs, drawing my attention to them, so as we set forth again on our walk, I consciously relaxed my legs and suddenly, Earli dropped his head.
"There! He just relaxed." Gail crowed. "You released all the movement through his body when you relaxed your thighs so now he knows he can just walk forward." 
When my ride was over, Gail told me how to dismount, which I managed to execute without flailing or falling or swinging upside down underneath the horse, then I promptly thanked Earli and gave him a hug.
"Oh, I'm so glad you did that," Gail said. "You always have to thank your horse."
Marjorie Simmins writes in her book how even the simplest praise from her instructor for doing something right makes her heart sing -- and now I totally understand that feeling. When it comes to horses, these magical, mystical creatures, we want to be worthy of them, we want to be good for them.
It might be that I have an instinct for this. Might; I'm not counting my horses before they're saddled.

A fifteen minute ride and my head is full of information from Gail. Things to think about all winter as I make plans to start riding lessons in the spring.
I'm saying it's all about material for the next Field Notes book (yes, already collecting stories for FN2) but truly, deeply, madly, it's all about fulfilling another long-held secret dream: to be a horsey woman.

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