Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week Forty-Eight

Event:  Took a horse riding lesson

"Rollin' Rollin' Rollin', keep them doggies rollin', boy my ass is swollen, rawhide!"

In my mind, a horse riding lesson would be like this:  I would show up at a barn (wearing my cowboy boots to look the part of course), I would meet an instructor (preferably a hot, single cowboy) who would walk me up a half staircase where I would daintily hop on a medium size Seabiscuit and the horse would be tied to a leash and we'd walk in a circle for 20 minutes, I wouldn't fall off, feel like the queen of the world and call it a day. 

That is the exact opposite of my first ever horse riding experience.

I drove about 30 miles out of town to a barn I found online.  Taking a little bit of a chance, I put my hopes, dreams and safety in the hands of a complete stranger. And that's the horse I'm talking about.  But when I arrived, I was relieved to see a couple of teenagers riding, with their moms looking on, telling me this was the place to take horse riding lessons.  While I sat and admired one of the teens' equine ability to make the horse jump over horizontal poles, I thought to myself "I'll be lucky to do that sometime this century".  So I asked the mom how long her daughter had been taking lessons.  When she told me this was her daughter's third lesson I knew I was in for a big surprise. 

Moments later I found myself filling out a 4 page release form saying I won't sue the barn if I get bit, kicked, pooped on, bucked off, smashed against the railing, thrown off, spat on, bruised, lose a digit, lose a limb, lose a buttocks, or simply lose my pride.  I reluctantly signed my life away while thinking how much it would suck if any of these actually happened - and how hard it would be to explain to my family.  But then the moment passed and I giddily put on an extremely stylish riding helmet so large that it would have saved me from running head on into an oncoming train.  Let's ride.

As the trainer and I walked into the indoor arena, I got to meet Gidget, a big-ass, tan and white, fifteen-year-old mare (lady horse).  Ironically, Gidget and I had a lot in common.  First, we both like apples.  Second, we both like carrots.  Third, we both poop standing up...just kidding.  But seriously, we are both almost the same age (in people years Gidget is in her thirties) and when I looked up the significance of her name, I learned that Gidget was the name of a fictional character in a novel written in the 1950's called "Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas."  The novel was turned into a movie and Gidget was played by Sandra Dee, then it turned into a TV series and Gidget was played by Sally Field.  The show was described as, "A cutesy girl finds herself in a sad dilemma because the boys on the beach don't pay her any attention as her body doesn't measure up to the curves of her peers, but then a star surfer begins to have a little attraction for her."  Well I don't know about the surfer part, but I can definitely relate to the rest of the story.  That was until I found the second meaning of Gidget.  "The name Gidget is a portmanteau of "girl and midget".  Well for shit's sake.

I let Gidget smell my hands, I pet her head and slipped her a twenty so she wouldn't buck me off.  And although I tried to convince my trainer to allow me to do a running start into a leap-frog type mount (over the horse's rump into the saddle) she wouldn't allow it, so I had to climb up a few stairs and do it the 'ole fashioned way.  Before I knew it I had both cowboy boots in the stirrups and not only did I not find myself being bucked off, I was actually riding.  After a few successful laps around the arena, my trainer told me she thought I was ready to learn how to "post the trot."  Sounds terrifying.  Let's do it.

Apparently when people ride horses and you see them bouncing up and down off the saddle, that's by design.  I never knew that.  If you maintain the correct posture, hold the reins loosely while keeping your hands in a fist on the horse's maine, keep pressure on the balls of your feet in the center of the stirrups, occasionally give the horse a little kick, pull the reins in the direction you want to go, keep your head up, avoid the poop, and yell "whoa" only when you want to stop, not as if to say "whoa this is cool", you're "posting the trot!"  Holy leg cramps that was a lot harder than it looked.
Seventy minutes into doing squats on a galloping horse, my legs were officially jell-o and I looked at the trainer and told her I didn't have any trotting gas left in my tank.  She then realized that this first timer had been riding for well over an hour and that it was time to quit.  Gidget and I came to a slow crawl and I was told how to properly dismount the horse.  Take your right foot out of the stirrup and kick your leg around.  While laying both arms over the horse, you hold yourself up while kicking your left foot out of the stirrup.  You then slowly slide down the side of the horse onto the dirt.  Or, if you're me, you do this entire motion awkwardly only to land in a pile of dirt because your legs literally do not work any more. 
After I finally found my sea legs again, I got to help take Gidget's bridle off and clean it, I got to watch the trainer lift up each hoof to clean the dirt out, and I got to brush her, put a blanket on her, and walk her outside to her barn. 
Now, if only someone would put a blanket on me and take me to my barn because I can't move my legs and my butt hurts so bad I'm contemplating buying a bag of ice to sit on.  Whoa nelly.

1 comment:

  1. Please don't stop after the first of the year. You bring so much joy to my life.