Sunday, 8 August 2010

When I was little I used to ride horses...

Its Sunday.When I was little and by little I mean from the age of 8 onwards, I used to spend my Sundays riding....Horses.I was one of those little girls who loved horses from the moment I could say 'neigh' and spent my time reading books about them, drawing them and pretending I had one.My parents allowed me to take riding lessons when I was 8.



Every Sunday we used to drive down to Turville in Buckinghamshire to ride at a stables there.My parents would sit in the Bull and Butcher, waiting for the hour's ride to finish - in the winter in front of a roaring fire, in summer in the garden.I, unfortunately, did not show a natural talent for the equestrian life.I was actually rather scared of the horses I was riding.Scared that they would bite me, scared that they would not do what I wanted.I wasn't so scared that I didn't want to ride...

I held in my heart an optimism that I would, one day, be a brilliant rider.I imagined, each birthday, that I would come down to find a pony of my own in one of our outbuildings.Of course it never happened - in the same way that my parents never wrapped the Osmonds in a huge gift box on our lounge carpet for me - they couldn't seem to read my heart's desire...

Shortly after I started riding, having had to wait until the grand old age of 8, my younger brother started too. Strangely he was allowed to ride from the age of 5... I adore my brother, now father to 8 week old triplets, but I was supremely jealous of his ability with horses. He was immediately like a kind of infant horse whisperer.Horses went dopey around him. They would do anything for him.The stables let him ride all the best horses, while I plodded around on the old placid ones trying to look good.

I remember one day the owner of the stables commenting to me on my brother's beautiful, soft hands... the way he was such a natural.... I could have stabbed her.

Still, despite my envy, my inadequacy, those stables and the times I spent there, form a huge and beautiful memory in my mind.The smell of saddle soap, the gleam of hoof oil... I remember spending summers on riding courses where we 'owned' our own horse for a week. In my memory the sun always shone. We played gymkhana games on our horses and I loved jumping, playing the higher and higher game. I remember having to hold my horse, Apache, with his head away from the jump because he loved jumping so much he would lunge on his haunches when it was his turn and we would fly over, somewhere between disaster and glory...

We would ride through the countryside together, eat lunch in the barn, brush our horses so they glistened.Everything was right with the world then.

I stopped riding when I went to university. The stables turned into an amazing, posh stud run by the owner's daughters and I sort of... grew out of it.Now I wonder if I will ever ride again... I always felt easy on a horse, comfortable, even though I was scared of them when on the ground, but now? Its a long way to fall isn't it? But I find myself googling stables in the area and wondering if I could still do it

9 comments:

Gail said...

I, too, have fostered a life long love of horses. I now own four at my ripe old age.

Never give up on your dream.

Helena Halme said...

My heart ached reading this because my daughter was another little girl who always dreamt of owning her own horse, but who was really afraid when she took riding lessons. And I was the nasty parent who never bought her a horse. Oh well, she seems ok as she prepares to go to uni. xx

Sophia said...

I have always wanted to own and ride horses since I was a little girl. I even hoped to own one just a few years ago...starting to lose hope, though! :)

PS I went to go vote for you but the polls were closed. Sorry I missed it! :(

Sharon Longworth said...

My sister was the horsey one in our house, she'd pretend to ride an imaginary horse around the garden, over the stick jumps she'd made. Now she's all grown up and she's got several horses and spends half her time riding around the Kent countryside - some dreams do come true.

Julia Christie said...

What a poignant memory. I too grew up riding our pony and then horses when I got older. It has been years now and I sometimes wonder if I still could...

Enjoyed this...

Smiles

Susan said...

I lived for horseback riding as a child. I quit riding for a time, and when I started again years later, it was as if I'd never stopped.

the eternal worrier: said...

Never been on a horse myself but I think you should again if you enjoy it. Why not?

Caz said...

What a beautiful post. Of course you could still do it! X

Caz said...

I just remembered a day when my family and I went horse riding and for some reason, I thought I was John Wayne in a Western and assumed the slouched shoulder pose. I remember my dad told me I looked like a sack of potatoes!!!! I was certainly no equestrian!