Growing up in SoCal in the middle of one of the multitude of intertwining cities over there, there wasn’t exactly space to own a horse and to go for rides you’d have to go miles and miles out of your way. Maybe I would’ve thought to ask my parents if we could try it, but some of the people in my grade school were pretty vocal about things they didn’t like and thought were “bad.” And when I say bad, I mean the dreaded uncool.
Being or looking like a farmer was bad.
Surfing was bad.
Cowboys were bad.
Horseback riding was bad.
Bad bad bad bad bad bad. Being different was BAD!
Pretty much everything was bad and you’d get teased (to say the least) for it. I didn’t question it so much when I was a kid, but now that I think about it, these people’s lives must have been seriously boring! How limited!
Unfortunately, this mentality stayed with me (it was pretty much the only one I knew) when I moved to Colorado where people owned cows and horses and alpacas (cousin of the llama). I was surrounded by uncool people. I was in Hicksville! HORRORS!!!!!
Through the years of Colorado life I was cured of the idea that country people are from another planet and I have been able to assimilate myself into their culture…to a degree. My own husband grew up on an apple orchard. I married a farmer’s son. See? I assimilated. The human race has access to mind-blowing adaptation skills.
One day he suggested we all (our son included) go for a horseback ride. Spur of the moment kind of thing. Luckily they had room for us in a group that was going to leave in about 15 minutes. My son rode safely in my arms and was terrified for the first 5 minutes…while we sat there waiting for the others to finish getting ready. My husband was lucky to be on his own – my arms were killing me by the end of the hour. All I was doing was holding him in place but he was leaning forward over the pommel the whole time.
My first real experience on a horse. I had watched movies with horseback riding in them. It was easy. I could totally do it. I was going to be a pro. And my farmer-turned-city husband would be wowed by my awesomeness. He was scared because it wasn’t a dog, it was really big, and he had never been on one before. I took care of my neighbor’s horse once for about a week when I was in high school in Colorado, therefore I had more experience than him and I had to show it so I swallowed my own fear and acted like I was cool.
I knew to kick the horse with my feet/knees and pull on the reigns to get the horse to stop or go in whatever direction I wanted. I totally had it.
Or so I thought.
My horse started walking without my doing anything. My City Girl came out. Instead of pulling on the reigns, I said, “Stop! Horse, stop moving! No, don’t go over there. Stop!” I felt like a total dork when I realized what I had just said. Seriously? I’m not going to stop a horse by saying “stop” and yet that was the first thing that I did.
Despite being told that I could not hurt the horse, I was worried about kicking it too hard so I was always falling behind a bit. By the end my fear was gone but my legs were tired so I couldn’t kick hard anyway.
My husband had almost as bad a time as I did except his City Boy didn’t show itself verbally. He didn’t want to spur his horse forward after a short break because his horse was peeing. He argued that it needed its privacy and he was going to let it do its business. To this day I love playing back this memory and laughing at how he didn’t want to disturb his horse while it was peeing. It needed privacy.
Our horses were trained to follow each other (and ultimately the guide) so basically all we had to do was stay in the saddle. Despite this easy ride, my body was super sore the next day. Holy cow! It was 2 miles and it took an hour. No biggie at the time. Arm soreness I understood from holding my son’s weight in place while he constantly leaned over the pommel. My whole body must’ve been tensed the whole time from keeping him (and therefore me) in place. That’s the only thing I can think of that would’ve made me ache so much.
We went again last weekend. We had been planning to do it when my son was in school but that didn’t work out so we opted to take him along provided he could ride his own horse. And he did. His horse’s name was Tootie and he was tied to the guide’s horse so he got to lead everyone. The ride took an hour (2 miles) and not once did he cause any problems. Mini Me did an awesome job!
My horse’s name was Comanche and he was actually a very tall pig in disguise. Every time we passed certain plants, he’d veer off course to eat. I had been warned this would happen but I didn’t anticipate how strong a horse is. I ended up having to use every ounce of arm strength in a tug-o-war against Comanche’s neck. I think he let me win. He also gave me a few unanticipated canters to liven things up. And we cut in front of my husband’s horse when they stopped paying attention at one point toward the end. It wasn’t my idea but it was fun.
I liked my horse. He knew how to give me a fun time.
My knees hurt afterwards though the pain didn’t linger long after I dismounted. The pain in my butt, however, is still present. Now I want horseback riding lessons! WOO!
Don’t let anyone tell you something is bad because they think it’s uncool. Life is short. DO EVERYTHING! As long as it’s safe and legal.