Tuesday, March 30, 2010
"Keep your toes up, your heels down, your legs in," my instructor implored. "Sit up, look straight ahead, relax, relax, relax." Apparently there is subtle communication that is supposed to take place between a rider and his horse, accomplished by the slightest changes in posture or leg pressure or the tiniest twitches of the reins. There was nothing subtle about my communications with Flynn. In my first lesson, I looked as if I was trying to direct traffic at a busy intersection during rush hour. Flynn went left when I pleaded right. He stopped when I said "go" and he wouldn't stop at all when I said, "Whoa."
At the end of the lesson my legs were a bit sore, but I had gotten through it uninjured. That made it a success because I think is the biggest fear for a middle-aged man learning to ride is not that he will get hurt, but that he will get hurt in an ungraceful, humiliating manner and have to explain the injury over the next several weeks.
"How did I break my arm you ask?" You would like to say that you did it rescuing a hiker stranded on a cliff or fighting off a grizzly bear that challenged you for the trophy elk you just shot. You never want to say, "The saddle slipped off the horse because I didn't put it on properly and I broke my arm as I fell face-first into a pile of manure in front of a bunch of snickering 10-year-olds who all ride better than I do." Stay tuned, because with my luck, my time is coming soon.