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I loved the idea of riding horses. In Australia for Pete’s sake! I mean, that would be an amazing way to take my first ride right? My kids already knew how to ride, and so did our friends. I knew they would love it! Because I’m game to try new things I stood on that mounting rock (yes, I meant to say ‘rock’) and I got on that horse and it was then that it hit me. I had no business sitting atop an animal that had put the fear of God into me!
Turns out I had nothing to actually worry about. The girls who took us out for our trail rides at Yarrabin knew exactly what they were doing and they knew how to help people like me. I’d been watching my kids learn to ride for the better part of a year, so I knew the terminology. I even sort of knew what to do. In theory.
Keep your heels down. Use your aids. Don’t lean too far forward. Sit up straight but stay relaxed in the seat. Loosen the reigns. Tighten the reigns. Not too tight or the horse will stop moving. Not too lose or they will do their own thing. I’m quite sure my horse knew I was a newbie. I hung in there. I even enjoyed the challenge. And it was a challenge! “See mom,” my daughter chided, “it’s not as easy as you think it is!”
The next morning, feeling more confident, I went out again. This time the scenery was so spectacular no matter what I had to ride. I’m glad I did. But after that ride I knew. I knew after riding twice that I was no equestrian in the making. For the life of me I could not feel that “up down” in the trot. Cantering was never going to happen. I’d been bounced around enough. My sits bones were barking at me like a rabid Pitbull. So when it was time for the second afternoon ride I declined in favor of walking the trail instead.
I don’t know how I end up in these situations. Out in nature. I’m more of a latte in the morning, glass of wine in the evening, museum and art gallery in between, kind of girl. You see, horseback riding is now my second least favorite way to enjoy nature. Hiking is definitely my first.
There is a certain irony here.
To be fair I expected this ‘hike’ would be more of a strenuous walk in the bush, which I knew would be good for me. According to what I’ve read it’s the best way to stay in shape for the long haul. I was grateful for that because I’ve renamed this trip ‘Eating your way around the world with kids’.
After the riders left me in their dust, which was by the second canter, I was all alone in the woods. I kept trying to breathe through my nose to take in the clean, fresh air, but it was difficult because I was huffing and puffing, trying to maintain a respectable pace. Truthfully I wanted to be rewarded by some frolicking kangaroos who surly would invite me to watch them. I kept willing them to cross my path.
When that didn’t happen I had a thought. I was writing in my head, which I often do. Usually my notebook is close at hand so I can write down my thoughts before they disappear into the abyss. I remembered I had my new iPhone with me to take photos, or perhaps call for help should I lose my way. I began dictating this post right into the phone! How cool was I, walking around in the Australian bush speaking to myself with the phone in my face?
And so tonight, I raise my glass to those of you who, like me, love nature – when we don’t have to work too hard to enjoy it. Have your horse and your sore seat. Have your blistering feet. Have your tent in the woods and your freeze-dried food too. When you come home your dinner will be waiting for you compliments of those of us who would rather be in the kitchen.
Aren’t you glad God made us all different?