I love animals. I also love a good sit down and a cup of tea. So it stands to reason that, the lack of a cup of Earl Grey notwithstanding, I would enjoy horse-riding. Galloping gracefully across the fields on my noble steed, leaping over fences and hedges… What could be better?
So when my wife suggested trying out horse riding up at Cardiff Riding School, I said yes. If nothing else, this blog has motivated me to try new things. I’d ridden ponies as a child growing up in the wilds of the Meon Valley, but that seemed like a lifetime ago now. I’d somehow grown less co-ordinated (which is impressive in itself) and more allergic to pain in the intervening years, but I strode out through Bute Park to the riding school last Saturday, full of enthusiasm.
I was stood at the stables in Pontcanna, dressed all in casual clothes, but wearing the shoes I got married in. Turns out you need some kind of heel on your shoes to stay in the stirrups and the only ones that met the criteria were the ones that carried me down the aisle. I changed from my trainers to my smart brogues as excitable young girls confidently leapt on to their beloved ponies in the yard around me. My wife got given a friendly equine called Amigo, which promised a personable (horse-able?) animal match up. But where was mine? The Silver to my Lone Ranger, the Artax to my Atreyu, the Bullseye to my Woody..?
I didn’t have to wait long and, they’d saved the best till last. Out walked my horse, a beautiful black mare. 15 hands high they told me. All I knew was that falling off it would not be ideal, especially as the landing options were cold concrete or hot dung. My mare was called May and I could sense we were going to get on well. She’d soon pick up on my masterful vibes and we’d be dressaging all over the place in no time.
The actual experience, my first time riding a horse for probably 25 years, was far more sedate. No jumps, no gallops, just some walking and trotting, mainly in a circle. But I loved it. Under the excellent instruction of Zoe, we were taken through our well shod steps at a good pace. In under half an hour I’d gone from climbing ungracefully onto my horse to getting one under control and trotting round quite happily.
I enjoyed my long overdue return to the saddle and look forward to going back to Cardiff Riding School soon. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to have half as much fun as I did but, aside from the aching thighs that are an inevitable outcome of horse riding, I had a great time. And, to all the neighsayers out there, I can only recommend that you give it a try.