Men will do funny things for the ladies they are courting, impressing or just plain trying to impress them with manly skills. Being a city slicker is definitely a strike against a woman’s suggestion to go horseback riding when she fails to tell you she is an experienced rider and a good one at that. A setup like this could make the bloopers but as funny as it sounded, it was not much fun for me.
A novice rider would be bragging. I was neither a novice nor a person who would say he ever rode a horse before even in front of a woman. It just isn’t wise to brag about such a feat when the fact remains you are about to mount on a horse you have never met before and have no clue how to begin to ride one. Paying attention was the key to success here.
From the very first moment I set my eyes on the stable full of horses, I knew it was going to be a bad day and a nightmare for me just because I was concerned about my safety more than the others with me. I was being selfish but I had no intentions of being hurt by a four-legged animal that weighed a lot more than me and stronger and more powerful than I could ever imagine.
My respect was immense and my apprehension was not even close to being good enough to try to ride one. I had heard of horror stories of people falling off horses and breaking their necks and I didn’t want to add my name on that list. I knew it was going to be my first trail ride and I was about to be taught a lesson by learning how to ride a horse.
Telling me before hand to dress a certain way and to wear the kind of clothes or attire that makes you comfortable was my first clue I should be prepared for something different. I didn’t own a pair of cowboy boots but I did have sneakers that were solid. However I chose to wear work boots just in case.
Jeans were everyday wear so that was simple. I couldn’t imagine wearing shorts on a horse saddle and for the girls I was hoping nobody wore sandals or open toed shoes. The reason I wore my work boots was because they are steel toed and although hot in the summer, they would protect my feet if the hoof of the animal met my toes for any reason transferring hundreds of pounds of pressure to my vulnerable and unprotected feet
The stable offered us riding helmets but I didn’t wear a helmet when I rode a motorcycle and I didn’t see a reason for wearing it riding a horse. I respectfully declined while others donned their and tightened the straps. I had no intention of falling off the horse at any time and I was certain that could be avoided.
The stable owner took about five minutes to explain o us the basics. What he was really saying was that riding is more about balance than it is power over the horse. Using the legs was more important than the hands and sitting squarely in the saddle while trying to relax was the key to staying in balance. Even relaxing was addressed at the stable owner emphasized not to slouch or lean one way or the other. I said I got it and waited for all to mount as we headed down the trail.
The girls were laughing and having fun while I was a little tense and more concerned about my horse’s disposition as it looked like a mean one to me. I tried to talk to it with a soft voice but I don’t think it made a difference. About a half hour into the ride the girls were up to something as I could sense they were plotting something evil. I think I disappointed them by staying in the saddle.
I was doing fine. I had the reins nicely even and taunt but not too tight as I had been shown. I was balanced, breathing and moving with the horse in rhythm. I had been shown how to stop turn or approach the horse. I was confident I had followed the instruction the right way and my confidence was rising as I was thinking this could be fun. For sure I was not about to be kicked just because I wasn’t paying attention how to act around a horse.
All of a sudden one of them came up behind and tapped the horse I was riding on the hind end and spooked my horse. The gallop turned into a fast gait and I was hanging onto dear life the way this horse was throwing me around in the saddle. I kept trying to balance myself
so I wouldn’t slide forward or fall back but it was touch and go as far as my technique used.
The second rule other than staying in the saddle was to look where you are going. A spooked horse is a flying missile with the intention of running away until it was calmed down again. I could sense I was in a lot of trouble but my worries were quickly forgotten when the horse ran under a tree and the thick heavy tree branch knocked me out of the saddle onto the ground.
A helmet would have been useful in this situation as my head hitting the branch gave me a slight cut over my left eye even when I ducked. Blood drawn I tumbled to the ground hitting me square on the buttocks giving everybody a good look at my awkwardness and pain inflicted body.
I never got back in the saddle. Once the horse stopped down the trail a bit I took it by the reins and walked it back to the stable. I guess I was lucky my feet didn’t get stuck in the stirrups as I have seen in the movies. Luck was with me after all was said. One this I knew for certain that day on that hot summer day in Ohio. This would be my first and last ride on a horse.