As a child and a young teenager, growing up in Tasmania my sister had a horse that I was allowed to ride sometimes. I also had access to other horses. I was never formally trained and I just picked things up from watching my sister and others handling and riding horses. I had no fear of horses, nevertheless, I have met people who are terrified of them. I suspect they know the average horse is 600 kilos and having a mind of there own at times; makes good sense why people don’t trust them. Although, this never troubled me, because I found them fascinating and magnificent creatures.
I had my struggles of course; I fell off a donkey riding it bareback, I was trying to impress a young blond teenage girl whose parents owned a donkey farm. Plus I experienced my share of stubborn and disobedient horse behaviours. Plenty of times larger horses pulled me out of my saddle over their necks to eat some green grass. After all, I was only a small teenage boy who in reality had perceived control. I was riding larger horses regularly, from memory, and never had been on ponies or horses under 14 hands.
In Hindsight, I was not a good ride in any formal sense. I did canter and gallop, however, me trotting would have been a sight and unquestionably far from graceful. Essentially I just held onto the main and reins and hoped I did not fall off. It may be hard for you readers to believe. I rode a horse that was ex-pacer (Harness racing horse) and had no shoes and was extremely stubborn. This horse was over 16 hands and disobedient mostly. I think it only allowed me because its paddock had no green grass and I would ride it to places that offered green grass. I rode this stubborn creature at about 12 – 13 years of age. No helmet, no proper riding boot and through a small country town mostly on sealed road and gravel. In today’s world, this is unimaginable, however, in country Tasmania back in the 70s nobody cared what I was up to, as long as it was not criminal or harming anyone else.
Fond childhood memories motivated me to try riding again. So recently I decided with a couple friends to go horse riding. I am nurturing a couple of degenerative lower discs in my back. Thankfully after years of Yoga and regular walking, I am much stronger and able to manages more exercise. However, I was not sure about the horse riding. I turn 50 in may and have lost a considerable amount of weight in the last twelve months which has helped enormously. Mostly due to new medication for my Bipolar and more exercise. So I feel great and thought why not give it a go.
I have been twice, and the second time was a two hour ride through the bush and we cantered and negotiated obstacles and some defiant horse behaviours. I was placed on the largest horse they had ( Over 16 hands) and she is a beautiful creature. They offered some formal riding tips and the whole experience was life-giving for me.
The purpose of this blog is to encourage anyone who enjoyed doing something and stopped, to attempt it again if feasible. Don’t allow fear and age stop you. Granted, we must use wisdom and be sensible, though lets not making ridiculous excuses to withdraw from life-giving experiences. I recognize the risks and I am a realist in terms of mortality and injury. However, I am also conscious that life is for living and not letting analysis paralysis and unhealthy fear stopping me from participating.