I renewed a long-dormant obsession of mine this afternoon, courtesy of a friend and neighbour. Like many girls, I was a pony mad child who used to pretend her bike was a horse, and for a long time if I’d talked about ‘riding’ it would have been four legs I meant, not two wheels.
But that was a long, long time ago, and the odd holiday trek aside I’ve not been on a horse since I left university. And it seems that things have changed since my riding school days, or maybe it’s just that my friend whose horse I was riding does things differently. It’s all about positive energy (to go forward) and breathing out and relaxing to stop, and you steer a horse exactly like you steer a bike, by looking at where you want it to go and sort of thinking it round the corner … but amazingly, it works too, or it least it does if you’re my friend – I had to resort to old fashioned techniques like pulling on the reins and squeezing my legs to reinforce all the positive energy at times.
Anyway, whether it was the positive energy or not, the horse and I managed to trot and also walk around in mainly the direction I wanted her to go in and occasionally the direction she wanted to go in (‘it’s best when that happens to just decide to go in that direction and then you’re back in charge’ my friend advised). It was nice to rekindle an old passion, but also to do something that was completely different from the sort of activities I normally do. I live very much in my head and through words and online, but horses don’t really respond to reasoned arguments (actually humans don’t much either, but that’s another story) and anyway, they’re not on Twitter. Having to not just remember all the things I was supposed to do (look up, relax, shoulders down, keep straight) but also to do it with the sort of conviction that a horse responds to (this is where the energy part comes in) was quite challenging and I was glad that I’d been to yoga beforehand as it put me in the right frame of mind (it didn’t help me get out of the saddle afterwards though – bikes are much easier to swing your leg over the back of!)
I don’t think I’ll be putting ‘a horse’ back on the top of every Christmas and birthday list the way I used to when I was twelve, or at least not quite yet. But I’ll definitely be getting back on the horse, just as soon as I’ve recovered from this afternoon’s exertions.