Tuesday, October 18, 2005

“Why are you walking funny, Mommy?”

Holy cow it’s been a long time since I rode a horse! Kiara and I got along smashingly but she is in much better shape than I. I feel like I have cowboy legs; I can barely get my legs together, let alone walk. But that’s a minor glitch in the quest towards horse ownership. And once I begin to ride regularly my legs won’t revolt like they’re doing today.

I had such a great time. Lee Ann and I went over the four page lease agreement (so much for your word and a handshake) and then we headed to the barn. I groomed Kiara first, then borrowed Lee Ann’s English saddle for my test ride. Everything was going well until I put the girth on backward.

Anyway, Lee Ann straightened me out on the girth (a wide strip of leather that attaches to each side of the saddle then goes underneath the horse to keep the saddle on) and showed me how to put on a rope halter. She uses a rope halter instead of a traditional bridle and bit; she says her horses like it better because they don’t have to have a cold piece of metal in their mouths. Can’t say I blame them.

So Kiara was all saddled up and we walked to the riding ring. I walked her around a few times to get her accustomed to the ring because she hasn’t been in it much. “She hasn’t been ridden lately,” Lee Ann called to me. “Oh, boy,” I thought. “She’s probably just dying to take off; she’s just been waiting for the chance.” My mind raced and before I knew it I was bucked off before I even got on!

I quickly decided to follow the advice of a college professor: “If you act like you know what you’re doing you’ll convince most people you do.” I didn’t care if I convinced Lee Ann but I sure as heck wanted Kiara to think I knew what I was doing!

Then it was time to get on and thankfully Lee Ann has a step so I didn’t have to show how incredibly inflexible I’ve become. (Probably has less to do with flexibility and more to do with how much dadgum weight I’m attempting to hoist up...)

Next thing I knew I was on and it was wonderful. I wasn’t scared and all the training from childhood came back to me. Lee Ann led us around the ring on a lead rope first but then she let me have control and it was fabulous. We didn’t do anything more than walk around the ring but oh my goodness, I was in heaven. The world just looks different from the saddle. The colors of the leaves on the trees were more brilliant, the sky more blue.

There’s a lot to think about when you’re riding. Eyes up, knees in, heels down, reins loose, don’t look down, look where you’re going … Lee Ann was very complimentary of my skills (I use that word loosely) but the highest compliment she gave was allowing me to ride her horse.

Time was up and I needed to get back to the kids. (Of course if we lived on a farm I would have been home…) I didn’t sign the lease because I figured I should at least let Sean look at it first (I felt like a good wife exhibiting such restraint). But I feel quite confident that we’ll be trotting down the road to horse ownership in no time. At least Kiara will be trotting; I'll be along for the ride.