A Not-So-Steady Hack

12 08 2012

Yesterday was my first ride back in the UK. This meant being at the bus stop for 08:50 in order to make it to the stables in good time – a far cry from being up at 05:00 to leave the flat and catch a 06:19 train! Heh.

This time, rather than having a yard lesson, we went on a hack through some beautiful woodlands and out onto some roads within the picturesque setting of a country park. I have to say, it was wonderful. I went with my friend, Damian, who rode an 18hh Perchercon called Saxon, whilst I was assigned a 15hh cob by the name of Billy. We were joined right as we entered the woods by Damian’s friend Amy on her rental horse, Nirvana (Niv for short). We went out in a large group; this was all new to me, as I’m used to riding horses who are as tall as Saxon (who, in terms of bulk, is easily bigger than any of the horses I was familiar with at Gakushuin, but not taller, which came as a surprise as I wouldn’t have guessed the thoroughbreds at Gakushuin were quite that tall, and my Japanese wasn’t sophisticated enough to have asked), only ever on the levelled grounds of a yard, generally in a one-on-one lesson situation and rarely for much more than 20 minutes at a time. I was really impressed by the way the hack was organised; having a bit more experience than a complete beginner and for knowing that I can walk, trot and canter independently, they at times split the group into two so I could bomb it at a canter across the paths that were well suited to it (three in total over the whole course) with the more experienced riders.

Now, I love cantering, but I will openly admit that every time I do it I get an initial rush of fear that I’m going to be thrown off and die. However, I like that; I find it exhilarating. Heh. I’m sure you can imagine how much that was amplified by being on uneven ground for the first time on a horse I didn’t know with a bunch of other people I didn’t know either! I held it together, though, and through the whole hack I had a fantastic time. What was also a bit tricky for me at first was negotiating steep downhill slopes, but I got the hang of it quite quickly. Initially Billy wouldn’t listen to the signals I was giving him through my legs, but the instructor behind me called out to me to whack him one on the neck with the reins, so I did that and afterwards, sure enough, he obeyed me, but still tried to take liberties when he thought he could get away with it. Heh. I have to say I enjoyed his character, but found it a bit of a struggle making him walk faster. Instead I just broke into a trot to keep up whenever we fell behind. In my experience, horses are often lazy after an extended rest and I think I was Billy’s first rider of the day.

Other highlights included going out onto THE ROAD with CARS, which I’ve never done before and which made me feel rather badass (not least because it reminded me that I’m the only member of my family who can’t drive a car, but at the same time the only one who can ride a horse), and Billy charging at a fast trot from the back of the line to catch up with Saxon at the front towards the end – only for me to then be told off and have to pull him back behind a larger horse called Baron. Sadly with it being an early hack and the horses all being booked for other riders straight away afterwards, I didn’t get much time to interact with the horses ‘socially’ or take any pictures, but I was glad I was able to be introduced to Saxon finally after hearing so much about him from my friends. He was engaged in an epic shoving match with Damian when I wandered over to say hello, and attempted to flick me with his head on acknowledging my presence, but I wasn’t having any of it. Heh. He was absolutely beautiful, though; the photos I’d seen didn’t really do him justice.

Thereafter, I fed Nirvana a handful of apple slices I’d intended to give to Billy and Saxon but hadn’t had time to, and was amused when she gave me a hilariously filthy look when I put my hands up to show her I had none left. We said goodbye to Amy, I thanked her for putting a word in for me to ensure I got to do something a bit more exciting than just a steady hack and we left her to shower and change out of our horse-slobber covered clothes.

Again! Again! Again!




2 responses

13 08 2012

Wow, that was your first lesson! Sounds amazing and I am sure it was beautiful. I think the countryside in the UK is prettier than here in california, although all the oak trees and yellow wild-grass here do have a certain rustic charm.
My personal trail story….I went out on the trail with 8 of my friends and my horse fell behind the rest of the group, I honestly think he was sleep walking lol. When he woke up and realized we weren’t right with the others he tried taking off on ground that was unsafe…..me trying to hold him in=an incredible bronco bucking show. I ended up letting him canter a bit but I admit I was scared, good to know I am not the only person that suffers from that silly thing called self preservation 😛

Are you planning on doing a weekly lesson and what are you planning on focusing on? Pleasure riding, english…..hunter, jumper? Uh, do people even ride in western saddles over there? I have no idea lol. Thanks for keeping your blog updated!

14 08 2012

Well, it was a hack rather than a lesson, which is just a pleasure ride really. I am hoping to start taking weekly lessons, though. More to follow on that when it’s actually all been decided on and is in progress! Heh.

We don’t use western saddles here, no; we use English saddles (in fact, I was surprised to find that these are also used as standard in Japan, too). I just looked both up on Wikipedia and was surprised by how different they actually are! 🙂

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