After weeks of bad weather, scheduling conflicts and bouts with minor health issues, I finally got back to the barn yesterday for my weekend riding lessons. Tequila, my usual mount, was lollygagging in the outdoor ring with his pals to recover from a minor injury, so I was instructed to tack up another school horse named “Quarterback.” (Sorry, no photos. I didn’t want to bother anyone at the barn who are all busy doing their own thing).
One of the few advantages of not owning your own horse is that you get used to getting on different animals and can make adjustments to their quirks fairly readily. Experience gives you a bigger toolbox. It doesn’t bother me to be riding one horse with his particular habits for weeks at a time, and then be handed another with a whole new set. This time, I was told Quarterback, whose gene pool includes a mysterious mix of Quarter Horse and an anonymous draft breed, does not like to move much. My instructor handed me a crop and said: “You’ll have to work for every stride.”
She wasn’t kidding. I pushed the entire lesson. I do not like to carry stuff when riding but had to resort to the crop a couple of times (I accidentally hit myself another couple of times). I am also out of shape so it was unfair to blame the horse for my lack of coordination. Even so, despite my near heart attack conditions, we managed to get up a smart trot that surprised the instructor and pleased me. The canter, not so good. We squeezed out a few strides before I was an exhausted wet noodle. But despite what could have been a frustrating lesson, I was still happy. I was on a good and honest horse with an adorable personality and the knowledge that I was where I most wanted to be in the whole wide world. My riding attitude is much different now than years ago; I am just grateful to be in a saddle at all.