A Rider

When I was 11 years old, my family moved from Philadelphia to Connecticut. We moved right after the last day of school and I was devastated. It wasn't the first time we had uprooted and had to start over again. This time felt different though. It didn't feel like an adventure, it felt sad. I had friends that I loved and a place that felt truly like home. I can remember distinctly driving away from a surprise party that my friends threw me to say goodbye and looking out the window and waving and knowing that another chapter of life had surely ended.

That first summer in Connecticut was lonely. We only had two neighbors our age and we became good friends with them. After having so many friends and losing a couple of best friends, it wasn't the same though. My parents encouraged me to go to day camp for a couple of weeks to meet some people and get out of moping around the house. I looked through the brochure. They had computer camp, art camp, golf camp, etc. etc. Only one thing caught my eye though. Horseback riding camp! Now that I was living in "the country" this seemed fitting and I always loved animals.

The first day of camp, I could not believe how big horses were when you stood next to them. I loved how they smelled and would have stood there and brushed them all day. When I rode for the first time, it felt and looked so strange. Unlike a motorized vehicle, horses sway and bump. Their necks look ridiculously skinny when viewed from above. I loved how their ears flicked back and forth, listening to the rider and then taking in the world. It was love at first ride for me. The big, sweet school horses anchored me that summer in my new life.

I wouldn't ride again for about 6 months. For Christmas, my parents got me some riding gear and a gift certificate for 8 lessons. Then I didn't stop riding for 6 years after that. I learned hunter-seat equitation and how to jump. I showed every month and helped break a young mare. I rode bad little ponies, lazy old geldings, $50,000 show jumpers and once in awhile the farm's burro (he always gave me about 30 seconds before he bucked me off).

I learned strength and subtlety. I learned empathy and to be competitive. I learned dedication and hard work and when to just kick back and relax and stop trying so hard. I learned respect and poise under stress, how to work judges and how to have fun when it was getting too serious. I learned to win and to lose with equal grace. As a matter of fact, most anything I needed to know in life, I've learned from a horse.

Posted from Basel


lobstah said...

So are you going to start riding over there? Maybe a nice Hanoverian? ;)

Michelle said...

I'm thinking about it. In August I plan to bring back either my saddle, some golf clubs (golf license grumble grumble) or a bike. And yes the warmbloods over here are so pretty :)