My Dad moved a few months ago, out to a lovely spot on a hill outside the city. It was all kinds of heartbreaking and new and exciting, and I realised that while I was out here I could cross another adventure off The List and I spent a week and a bit with Grove Livery and I learnt to ride a horse. And it actually did as I asked.
I learnt to trot, which was hard. Not the getting the horse to trot bit (which was easy when all the horses were so biddable and attentive) but trying to figure out how and when to stand up, and how to do so without your hands pulling on the reigns! It took some effort. Cantering was relatively easy by comparison and oh jumping! Jumping was quite fun.
It’s always surprising to me how these big, wonderful giants are willing to take instruction and do our bidding. To carry us around on their backs and run (or trot, jump, canter). I wonder what ‘breaking’ them in really means… they’d never do this in the wild, willingly carry us. How far does being humane go? (Especially cause the language we use to get horses to follow instructions are a piece of metal in their mouths and kicks).
In saying that, I spent a week on Ellie and Shadow and they were more than engaged. When I asked them to work a bit harder: cantering or jumping from a trot – they were more than happy. Their ears perked up, they moved a bit faster than asked and they were keen, often jumping further than required. It was an exhilarating experience!
It was a good week of lessons. I’m not an expert or anything by any means, but I did learn a lot about grooming; each lessons came with the extra responsibilities – brushing the horse down, picking out their hooves, tacking, putting the bridle and boots on. At the end of the lesson we’d remove the tack and wash our horses down. If it was cool we’d put on coats before releasing them into the fields.
I’d say I’m a comfortable beginner. But I can get a horse to do as I ask, so I’m calling this one done. Woop!
All Photos by Dan Draper, of DCD Photography