As often as I can manage it I get out of London and head down out to the English Countryside. I've got family out that way, and they're all kinds of brilliant. They also live up the road from a stable, where I had my very first horse riding lesson. It's on The List; #17 – Learn how to ride a horse (and actually have it do as I ask). It was a small stable, with cats that slept in the hay, little ponies in little stalls and a ridiculous German Shepard that greeted every new person with growls and barks. It had a pretty gorgeous view over the village, too.
Well, my very first lesson was with a bunch of children, which I was okay with. I'm pretty shameless, and have no problem riding with children. Let's not talk about how these particular children had been riding since they were old enough to fit their little legs into stirrups. It was all very English.
I have to say, I enjoyed myself. Horses are quite big, which seems like an obvious thing to say, except that I never realised quite how big they were till I was standing next to one concerned that he might stand on my foot. Or again, when I was seated upon him and was concerned with falling off.
Also, riding requires more co-ordination than I have. We got into trotting, and for serious; how are you meant to up-down AND kick on at the same time?! Every time I wanted to kick on (aka, go faster) while I was trying up-down (which is to lift your body up and down with all your weight on your knees so that it matches the horses gait) I sat down, so I could kick. Every time I sat down the horse took that as the signal to walk. It was a bit ridiculous, and I couldn't figure it out. Apparently that's okay, though. Apparently it takes more than one lesson to get it down :)
After half an hour of 'heels down' and 'squeeze with your knees!' around an arena, we went on a hack. Which is basically a short walk down the country road. It was quite fun, and pretty novel to be on the back of a horse on a road I've walked the dogs down.
To be honest, I didn't get it during that first lesson. I didn't get the up-down, I didn't get the kicking-on, or the heels-down or the squeeze-your-knees or any of the rest of it. It was more a hang-on-and-hope-you-don't-fall-off kinda day. But that's okay, I didn't think I was going to get it on my first 45 minute kids lesson.
Still, I had a great time. I'll go again, when I'm next out that way. I'm sure I'll figure out how to ride eventually :)