Pre-pandemic I had a list of things that I wanted to learn. Basically playing catch up and giving myself what I didn’t get as a kid. This week it was horseback riding lessons. Why? I don’t know. But I read Black Beauty a ton of times as a kid, so maybe that’s it. And I like the idea of having this be an option for me. I can walk, ride a bike or take a horse.
I got up super early and went out to Randall’s Island, then managed to get lost for half an hour. I almost gave up and went home. It just felt like too much. When I finally found the stables I nearly cried in relief. Once I got in it was a flurry of trying on helmets and watching my horse, Cooper, get saddled. I had opted for a Western lesson, with a western saddle. Big difference between English and Western saddles? The western has a horn to grip.
My first lesson was about getting comfortable, so once I clambered on to Cooper’s back we went into a paddock to saunter sedately around in a circle while a trainer held the reins. Then I got to hold the reins. Then I got to balance on the saddle without holding on. Then I got the reins again and started working on steering the horse.
It’s funny, but when I thought about riding a horse, I kind of forgot that horses are living things. It’s mind blowing that this massive animal let me ride on his back. Putting my hand on Cooper’s back filled me with a sense of calm.Riding reminds you that you are dependent on another being who could throw you to the ground without hesitation.
When I got home, I booked my next lesson and shopped for supplies. I found the riding helmet, horse treats and a kids book about horses on Chewy. I got the black jodhpurs on Amazon. Now I can walk around the streets of NY dressed like a lawn jockey.