For our recent anniversary, Mrs D bought me a two hour horse riding trek. Now, I have never sat on a horse before, so this was going to be an interesting challenge. I know next to nothing about riding horses.
So, this morning, we found ourselves (after some deft navigation through county lanes in the Quantock Hills) at Quantock Trekking. Within minutes we had completed the forms and I was given a hat. I am not sure what I was expecting, but seconds later I found myself sitting on Gerty, a large mare (well, I am quite heavy). Nicole was on Billy, a young gelding. I got a quick demonstration on turning left, right, starting and stopping and we were off. My only extra tip was how to stop Gerty snacking on every passing bush.
Next minute, we’re walking down a hill onto a road, round a removals lorry, past a couple of cars, our instructor in front and myself at the rear.
Having worked with dogs a lot, I basically came to the conclusion that I just needed to sit tight and relax. I figured that the more calm I was, the easier Gerty would be to handle. This was not helped by the fact that my legs were already aching. So, I had a quick mental word with my legs muscles telling them to relax and that helped.
Sure enough, Gerty was attracted to many passing bushes, but before long I was able to sense when she was about to nibble something and intercept. I was able to just sit as Gerty walked along and admire Nicole’s more expert handling ahead of me.
Soon, we turned off the road and headed up the hill. We had to dodge into a field to avoid a tractor and somehow I managed to get Gerty to turn round, go back through the gate and wait! Then, up a narrow path through woodlands. It was quite steep but the horses were surefooted and had probably been this way many times.
The scenery was magical and soon we were riding along the top of the hill with views over both farmland and the Bristol Channel.
By now, I had channelled all complaints from my legs into a mental waiting room. They soon gave up and seemed to get used to it.
I found it harder coming down, at first, but soon got the legs right and the rhythm and we walked happily down. Well, I was quite happy but Gerty seemed miffed about something, I’m not sure she liked being the last horse. More cars, lorries and so on to dodge but we were soon back in the stables. Gerty made straight for the hay!
Somehow, I got my legs to work and returned to terra firma. I rewarded Gerty with some hay and then a carrot or two. I think I might have won her over a little. I sometimes wonder how horses put up with us beginners on their backs.
After that, we took the dogs for a short walk where we met a horse with her foal in a field. They were very friendly and got lots of pats and scratches, which they seemed to enjoy.