Thursday, March 31, 2016

Back in the saddle again

When I was a child, I wanted nothing more than to be around horses. I doodled horse pictures throughout elementary school. I read every children's book about horses, from Misty of Chincoteague to The Black Stallion. I begged for riding lessons and latched on to school friends who were lucky enough to have a horse or even a bad-tempered Shetland pony.

I loved the smells and sounds of a horse barn: the leather, the hay, the quiet munching of a contented horse at his grain.

I never outgrew my dream of having a horse of my own. In my mid-twenties, I finally bought a horse, a chestnut "grade" mare I called Candlewick. (A grade horse is one of mixed breeding and no pedigree, like a mixed breed dog.)

I enjoyed that horse and have always been happy that I was able to have her for a time. But when my first baby came along and there was only so much time, energy, and money, I found the horse an eager new owner and moved on without regret. It was time to grow up.

But decades have now passed and my babies are all grown and gone. I still like horses and, goodness knows, here in Saratoga County, we are virtually surrounded by nearly every type of horse imaginable.

So when a work acquaintance mentioned taking riding lessons through a continuing education program at Saratoga schools, a seed was planted. I had some doubts. I am not young. Could I do this again, I wondered?
Well, the answer is yes. Yes, I can. Tonight, one week shy of my 66th birthday, I got back on a horse. Meet "Cedar Creek Olympia" (aka, "Fudge") a retired show horse from Rolling Oaks Morgans in Gansevoort, just north of Saratoga Springs. She was my lesson horse tonight and we two old broads got along like a house afire.
I tacked her up myself and before I knew it, owner Sue Friday had us trotting and cantering around the lesson ring. I didn't fall off. I did need a few reminders and corrections (it has been years) and I will no doubt have some stiff muscles tomorrow. But wow, I did it! And I had a ball.

The photo below is of Fudge in her prime, being ridden by a more skilled rider than I. We didn't quite make it to that level tonight, but we had fun.

                                                  Fudge — Cedar Creek Olympia

When I thanked Sue at the lesson's end, I confessed that I had worried about taking up riding again at my age. 
Pshaw, she said. She told me that one of her riders is 78. 
Good to know. I guess I can look forward to at least another twelve years of riding. And wouldn't that be awesome.

Happy trails, my friends.