How was your weekend? Did you do the usual? Did you try something new?
Thanks to my niece, I was reminded how great it is to learn something new. Kids are lucky. They get to learn new stuff all the time. And, if they have great parents, like my niece does, they are encouraged to try new things that are not normally in our every day skill set. Like horseback riding. My niece went to horse camp this summer and learned all sorts of cool stuff, like how to put the tack on, how to wash and style the horse (WAY cooler than having a My Little Pony!), and of course, how to ride.
I was amazed as I watched my niece get out there and trot and post on this big horse all by herself. So cool! I was also in awe at how little these girls were and how big the horses were. This tiny spark of a girl, no more than probably 6, rode and controlled this big horse like it was nothing. No fear, no sense of the size difference, just pure unbridled fun. If kids learn things before they learn fear and caution, it is amazing what they can do. I wish I had learned skiing as a kid. To be comfortable on the slopes and not constantly worry about falling, imagining broken limbs and carnage, I would probably enjoy it more. But I didn’t learn till my late teens, so I’m the slow and steady one on the slopes with the clenched jaw and death grip on her poles. Oh well.
Horses are amazing animals. They are beautiful and elegant, and sensitive and grand and smart. Just watching them walk and move is a thing of great beauty. I think the coolest part of the show was the tricks or “vaulting” part. This is where the kids do gymnastic-like moves on the horse. It’s hard enough for some to do gymnastics on the FLOOR and here these kids are doing tricks on a moving horse. That’s crazy cool. I applauded and howled as my niece dismounted off the back of the horse, sliding down its butt like a slide. The trust you must have in the horse while doing these tricks is tremendous. Here are some vaulting tricks for your enjoyment:
Watching my niece’s horse show reminded me of my riding days. They were brief, but bright. I took English riding lessons for like a second, and then I was more into the western style. More relaxed, and definitely faster. When I was about 14, I got to go to a dude ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming one summer. It was the COOLEST experience ever. I remember going shopping in the city for western duds, not knowing what the hell I needed. I arrived at camp with all the wrong stuff. They were wearing Wranglers, I had Jordache. Luckily, there was a store that they took us to (I’m sure they were in cahoots with the store owners) but I got to get some proper boots and a real Stetson hat – I still have it! And a cute boy took it down to the creek and got it wet and shaped it for me so it would be a proper western hat. No 10 gallon high hat for us, no sir! Where is that dang hat? I’ll have to go look for it. I should wear it. ! also got this badass cardigan sweater with a big horse on the back. It was the greatest sweater of all time! I miss that sweater so much.
Anyhoo, while at the dude ranch, we got to ride every day and we learned how to Barrel Race. If you have never seen barrel racing, it is fast and furious, requiring great skill and a surefooted horse. We learned the traditional cloverleaf pattern and I really loved it. I can still remember at the start, your heart is racing like a rocket and you can feel the anticipation. Your moment hangs there, in the air, heavy like a blanket covering the ring. It is really something. Check out what it looks like:
I haven’t done much riding since then. I did get to ride an insane horse around the Pyramids in Egypt. THAT was an experience of a lifetime. If you ever get to Egypt, and you are on okay horse rider, I recommend you skip the traditional camel ride (bumpy, slow, smelly) and go for the horse. WARNING: These horses are badly kept, at least the ones we used were. Meaning, they are ridden all the time and let me tell you, it’s about 100 degrees out there in the desert. So, my horse looked and acted crazy. It’s eyes were bugging out, it’s ears were pointed back, ready for something, anything that would get it out of it’s back-breaking job of taking tourists around the Pyramids. But when I got on, that horse rode faster than any racehorse I have ever seen. At first, I was petrified and I thought, “I am going to die, right here, on this damn horse in the middle of the desert in Egypt.” And I thought how that would be so awful because lord knows what the Egyptians would do with my body. Would it get back to the U.S.? How would they notify my family? I love mummies and Tutankhamen and all that history, but I surely did not want to have that be my final resting place. But after my death flashed by me, I began to enjoy the ride and went with it and hooped and hollered all around those Pyramids, surely waking up all the Pharaohs buried there.
Besides the Egypt ride, I mostly have been on slow trail rides that tourists take. I find most of these rides boring and frustrating. You never get to run the horse. You used to be able to, and I would whoop and holler and burn rubber on the horse, but now, I guess because if liability and one too many stupid tourists who thought they could ride, fell off the horse, they just don’t let you run anymore. Sucks.
I hope you ladies have tried riding, or get to one of these days. It’s wonderful. But if it’s not your cup of tea, I get it. There are so many other new things to try and some that I will never do, like skydiving or bungee jumping. I highly praise those people who go and do these two crazy things, but you won’t see me doing anything that has a sense of falling. I would definitely shit my pants, and THAT new experience I do not need!!!