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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Engern or Westlish

Engern or Westlish

This is what happens when a 54 year old woman embarks on a belated childhood fantasy to become the equestrian of her dreams.

My love of horses must go back to the womb; only Lord knows why. I guess the horse gene skipped a few generations, from the old racing legacy (I must find that photo!). My parents insist my first spoken was, Worsey, for horsey, familiarized to Wishy, the generic word for all horses… My cousin, Debbie and I have the horse loving gene. A generation later, my cousins Ellie and Lauren also have that driving devotion to anything equine. What's not to love?

At 50, that banner year in life when we mark the passing of half a century, my husband and got horses. Our own living, breathing, highly opinionated Morgan gelding and Arab mare. I have digressed yet again from the topic.

I'm taking English riding lesson at an English barn. It is another language, a far cry from anything I've been doing on the trials the past 2 years at least. My legs are too far forward (from encouraging gait); my hands to far forward, the reins loose. Trying to coordinate my wrists and ankles in the same pass—not only does that sound kinky—but is LOL. Thank goodness my patient instructor doesn't tell me to keep breathing. Hands never cross the neck line. Squeeze to stop not go. Can I get cycling cleats to keep the ball of my foot on the iron? Canteen anyone?

My uncouthness doesn't start in the arena, but the barn. I lead my own horses single handed on a long lead. I tie them with the lead. I used to ride a horse with the lead line tied to the halter. I've been riding an English saddle for years, but never remove the girth, just undo one side and let flip it over the saddle. Eliza Doolittle in breeches. I wear those, but usually with a long sleeved men’s cotton shirt for sun protection. Goodwill will not use me as a fashion plate.

Don't let the horse see the crop. Don't crackle the plastic water bottle. Ground tie? I'm a Worker's Comp claim waiting to happen.

Bouts of confusion stifle my progress. Hands and legs go their separate ways. I'm riding neither English nor Western. It's Westlish at its worst. Engern with a gaited twist. If this isn't enough, my new horse, currently at the trainer, rides “Mongolian”. He has been a mounted archery clinic horse for Mongolian and medieval reenacting. Hmmm, Engernolian. We'll be trilingual; or in counseling.

Foreign language is fitness for the brain. Riding conditions the body and soul. With all the laughing going on at Willow Pond Ranch, there are endorphins to spare. Natural horseman to Engernolian, it is never too late to try something new, even if it means inventing it as we go.