The saying goes (or at least the saying I’ve heard!) “seven falls make a rider.” My ex had never sat on a horse and when I quoted this, he said, “So all I need to do is get on the horse and fall off seven times!” He always had the ability to outsmart me!
I have been horse riding since I was five years old, it is my favourite hobby. Yes, I have fallen off over seven times! (That’s not me trying to say I’m a good rider!)
I expect every rider remembers their first fall. My ride was a very cute Shetland pony. Well, cute until he decided cantering to the rear of the ride was just above him. Or maybe he was just bored! He proceeded to bolt, after he had had his turn, and buck me off! It was extremely un stylish, that’s my style. My foot was still in the stirrup, so rather than a simple exit it was more of a dangle. I was very much left hanging! I can’t even fall off properly!
The next crash landing was a few years later, then I managed no falls for quite a long time. I actually remember saying to a friend how I’d only ever fallen off twice. Well, is there any better way to jinx yourself?
At this point, I was jumping and after saying that, it was one bump after another! I would get home, my mum would ask how it went, I would say, “fell off,” she would roll her and eyes and despair. Not again! But I learnt lots and never had a tantrum like some I could mention.
After the panda volunteering in China, I turned to horse riding holidays. I choose trips in Cheshire, Scotland and Cambridge.
It is unfortunate that the Cheshire trip goes down as memorable for the reason that I got to China in quicker time! Storm Doris really didn’t want me to get to Cheshire! One packed train stopped…and then turned back. Then it was all progressing slowly on the next train…then we broke down in the middle of nowhere! Three hours on a broken down train in the middle of nowhere. We also had a pregnant lady and out of order toilets. Out of order unless your pregnant and don’t have a choice! One guy joked, “Is this going to be one of those is there a doctor on the train situations?” Luckily not! But it was a fireman assisting us all down off a very tall ladder off the broken down train and onto another when it finally arrived!
I will say that the short break in Cheshire was wonderful, completely worth it. Lovely horses, fantastic stables, but that journey is all that gets talked about if ever it gets bought up!
One riding break is memorable for a completely different reason, the most charismatic, bulldozer of an instructor! She looked like the loveliest elderly lady, but I soon discovered she could bellow better than anyone I know!
First full day of riding, I had a bit of a giggle at the way she spoke. She had come across as so sweet, but as she strolled past a groom helping someone with their stirrups, she bellowed, “TOO SHORT! NO, NO, NO, MUCH TOO SHORT!”
That same groom later talked me through where we were going for our hack.
“WHY ARE YOU GOING THERE!” That bellow again!
She was such a character!
The next person to get the bellow was a friendly man I was having a riding lesson with. A few failed attempts at getting his horse into the canter had our instructor yelling so hard I was surprised she didn’t bring out the cane!
“PUT YOUR HANDS DOWN! DOWN! DOWN!”
Another failed attempt. She then told him that she was going to tie his hands to the saddle and until he had control of his hands, he had no hope of controlling the horse.
At one point she opened the gate and motioned for us to follow her out. We started to head back towards the stables.
“WHERE ARE YOU GOING!?”
There was the bellow again. We were supposed to follow her into the field.
“I’m the pied piper. You follow me!”
“We’re the rats!” I said.
You couldn’t help liking her. She clearly knew her stuff, I learnt so much from her the short time I was there.
She explained how you don’t fall off from a horse going fast, you fall off from a fast horse suddenly stopping. She explained about going with them if they bolt, something I have been told many times, sometimes during!
We had to ride up a very steep hill. We were given very firm instructions to keep our hands down and sit forwards. The horses do speed up when they go uphill but the other guy’s horse really went for it and bolted! My horse was described as not the brains of the operation, he very much follows the herd, so we had two horses bolting and two rider going with them and our instructor barking out orders and making us do it again!
After we had collected our horses for the second time there was a silence.
“Now,” she said calmly. “I don’t like excitement. And that was verging on exciting. So I think we’ll leave it there.”
All in all, three different fantastic horse riding trips. They have allowed me to explore different parts of the UK while doing what I love best. Nothing beats a hack in the countryside (except when your horse decides he is scared of pigs!). Horse riding trips will definitely be back on the itinerary in the future!