Tuesday, 20 April 2010
I was given a riding lesson for my birthday last year and finally feel brave enough to use it.
I didn’t give horse-riding much thought when I was little – it was something the posh kids did. I was happy flying carrier bags on bits of string with my sisters, reading the Beano and building ‘Bobcat 2’, a terrifying go-cart made from old bike parts. Our neighbours were boys of the same age, so they would let us raid their toy basket (Star Wars figures, Boglins, Fungus the Bogeyman) and we, in turn, would dress them in skirts, paint their nails pink and doodle Tinkerbell lipstick across their faces. I don’t think it did them any lasting harm.
But the older I’ve become, and the more Westerns I’ve watched, the more I’ve quite fancied giving horse-riding a go. So I head to the local riding school, voucher in hand. I was expecting to see a troop of Chelsea tractors and children called Annabella prancing about in designer jodhpurs, but the reality is more comforting. I am greeted by a rosy-cheeked receptionist who lends me some size 7 boots and a size 2 hat. A fat tabby cat jumps on my lap.
Greg, the riding teacher, reminds me of my driving instructor – he smokes roll-ups, has a slightly potty mouth and lots of anecdotes. I like him straight away. My horse is called Betty - a name I think is more suited to a dinner lady. I feed her a eucalyptus Halls Soother to get her on side.
‘Always mount from the left side,’ says Greg. ‘Back when horses were used in battle, soldiers wore swords on their left side, so they had to get on this way.’ (Posh kids will already know that). I get on and do some walking, trotting, standing, kicking, bouncing and stopping. A 10-year-old girl in the ring next to me is going a lot faster and doing jumps, but this does not bother me – children always beat me at sports.
I do not fall off and sign up for another lesson next month.