Monday’s lesson was a pure gas and also reminded me of the good old days of 1970 when children could go to riding stables and, for $5, ride without supervision or helmets. What were we thinking?
For the lesson, Leah cleared the bottom pasture of horses so that we could use the cross-country area. There’s a pond, some hills, rocks, dirt, trees, etc. It’s a perfect training area. It reminds me of the old James Bond movie that we just watched, “From Russia with Love,” and the training camp for the SMERSH (Or was it SPECTRE?) spies, with all of the possible stiuations one right after another in an assembly line: Judo: Check. Garotting: Check. Hand-to-Hand: Check.
There were two of us who hadn’t done the course, so Leah had a more experienced rider lead us on, up, over, and around. As we went down a little slope and up a little rise, I recalled the old aforementioned days — and recalled them a whole heck of a lot as Leah called out a friendly “Duck!” as we went under the branches of a sycamore tree. Geeze! Branches! His Mopester-ness didn’t notice them — or did he? He was being a pain in the butt which is good I suppose because I’ve got a little more experience now so I can take it. My Little Pony — Not.
“If the horses take off,” said Leah, “don’t scream. Whatever you do, don’t scream.” OK. So I won’t scream.
Then it was time to go through the pond. I did it once behind the experienced rider since Mopey would indeed follow. We went down into the muck and then cut across and went up a hill. The mud sucked at Mopey’s shoeless feet, the algea-green water slopped up against horse legs, and the ascent was steep. Then it was time for me to do this thing by myself.
It took me three tried to get Mopey into the pond but with Leah’s encouragement (“Make him do what you want him to do!”), we managed. Then I tried to turn Mopey’s head to exit the pond the same way. This did not work. Mopey was set on a course of his own, a course that was taking us across the pond another way — and up the steepest hill. Straight up. Up.
“Grab his mane and hang on!” shouted Leah and I did and I started to scream. Well, not scream. More like a very loud whimper. Two of them. Then, in the midst of the second one, I remembered my teacher’s words: Do not scream. So I clamped my lips shut and quit worrying about trying to make the horse stop and I hung on. I had my first taste of the pleasure of riding a big animal and feeling all of that power and muscle carry me up and up. What a rush!