The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Giddy-up, Girl!

I was asked for a progress report on my riding lessons a while ago, and I suppose I have some progress to report, but only just. Such equestrian skills as I have acquired I have picked up very slowly, by infinitesimally gradual increments.  No-one learns new stuff fast at my sort of age, I guess. 

Until April this year I hadn't been in the saddle since a touristy hour-long ride over the semi-flooded plains of the Camargue in a string of white ponies led and herded by a proper Camargue cowboy, through rice paddies, and along the cicada-echoing sandy tracks between them. This will have been in about 1992, as the Infant Phenomenon who was The Daughter as a child was also riding that long distant summer's day. She'd only been having lessons about a year, but managed to stay on despite having a wayward and wilful pony who detected a lightweight on his back and played up a lot.  She had been nervous at not being given a hat, which was very British of her, and mighty relieved to dismount at the end.  As was I. I would have been 35 in 1992. Which makes me exceedingly old, wise and creaky now.

I am very pleased to say I can now get on and off without getting stuck halfway. My legs and pelvis are relaxing and some muscles are strengthening, my teacher tells me, but you'd never know it to look at them. Apparently my core strength has improved. I am just starting to learn how to steer with my legs as well as with by opening the rein. Last week I learnt how to get the horse to step backwards and turn moving hind legs only, though I can't remember the technical term for this. I can also do a rising trot with my feet out of the stirrups, though when this concept was first put to me my mind could not fathom it. Computer says NO! But hey! it can be done.

I am not terrified all the time any more and this has helped my muscles to relax. Some lessons I enjoy all the way through. I have yet to be allowed to trot without the bridle being held by the teacher running alongside, and cantering seems aeons off, although I used to hack with the village "riding school" as a pre-teen and canter and even gallop when riding out. I use the term "riding school" loosely and ironically as until this year no-one properly taught me anything and I had no technical ability beyond being able to stay on most of the time and not immediately giving up if I fell off.

So that's how far I have come after 30 minutes' tuition a week for four months. I have ridden three different geldings in that time, most recently two Welsh Cobs of about 15 hands. It feels a long way down to the ground still, though perhaps it always should feel like that. After all, it IS. So one doesn't want to make the journey by the quickest route, ideally...