Well the time has flown past and the first Take Back the Reins Course at Tumpy Green Equestrian Centre has come to an end.
From those first tentative, wobbly steps that we took 7 or so weeks ago, where are we now? After our final session – our first group hack – we were greeted with tea and cake and the chance to find out what plans each person had… how many of us had re-kindled their passion for being around horses again?
So much has happened during the course, it is difficult to know where to start.
Highlight of the second class? Cantering! Despite the fact I was not convinced that I really wanted to canter, I did it, and it was great – not stylish or elegant and not necessarily with a huge amount of control, but it was so good to be in the saddle again… and certainly there was a large helping of relief that I remained in the saddle as I cantered to the end of the ride.
What came next – ah, I remember, ‘Around the World’. As a child at Pony Club I fondly remember racing the rest of the group ‘Around the World’. Well at best it could be described as a much more leisurely cruise now, with the danger that I would get stuck in the Southern Hemisphere facing my very patient horse’s tail. Probably best forgotten I think, thank goodness there are no photos.
But there was more to the course than just getting back onto a horse again. The instructors were great – never making you feel silly, always quick to praise and encourage.
A few of us were worried by the fact that we were a very different shape and size compared to when we had last ridden. Someone (only half-) jokingly said as we were allocated our horses for our first ride – “I hope he is big enough to carry me”. Without hesitation, Nikki said with a smile and a shrug, “They’ve got a leg at each corner – not a problem!”
And that is something that I realise now. I may have stopped riding years ago because of time/ money/ family/ work commitments. But why has it taken so long to get started again? Fear is high on the list – fear of falling off, fear of making a fool of myself. But also I fell into the trap of waiting – I kept telling myself that I was not fit enough to start riding yet. I decided that I needed to get fit BEFORE I got back on a horse. With hind-sight I think I was wrong.
I had forgotten that riding a horse is a very good way to get fit and I now have the aching muscles to prove it. Getting a less than enthusiastic horse to trot around the school is such hard work – it certainly feels at least as effective as a workout in the gym!
I now have a goal and being fitter is a necessity – I want to be able to ride better and ride for longer … and be able to walk normally when I get off my horse at the end of the lesson!