To Foal, verb, also known as having a baby horse
When I was a girl, my mother’s father always kept at least one horse. And when his favorite horse foaled, I had my own horse too. Since I didn’t know how to ride and my mother wouldn’t let my grandfather teach me (he had many admirable qualities, but the ability to teach was not among them), the stable owner showed me the basics.
How do I stop this thing?
The very basics. A light quick pressure with my legs to go, pull the reigns left to go left, right to go right and both to stop. And then he said I was good to go. Sure. Good to go… stopping, however was another matter.
Papa and I went out and started slowly, but as we gradually gained speed I got more and more nervous and finally decided to slow down. Pull both reigns to stop. Except, I kept pulling, like using the breaks on my bike. And so, of course, upset by the pressure on her mouth, my horse reared, causing my grandfather’s horse to rear and then buck him.
I managed to stay on, but I was mortified. I had gotten my grandfather hurt. When I told Ori this story as an explanation as to why I hadn’t been on a horse in over twenty years, he acted like I’d lost my mind. “You stayed on the rearing horse. Your grandfather was the one who got bucked. You can do this.”
And dammit if he wasn’t right.
Getting back on… Oh, you know
While in San Pedro, I booked a horseback ride along Lake Atitlan to Playa de Oro, with a friend from Xela. At eight in the morning, we mounted our horses and started riding through the town, periodically ducking to avoid thwacking our heads on any low hanging signs. The horses knew the route and followed the whistles, clicks, and shushes from our guide.
As we rode, I would lightly draw the reigns to the right or left to stay to the side of the road, since we were sharing with cars. From street to highway to path, we made our way to the lake shore, or what would have been the shore if the lake hadn’t risen from all the rain. And after our requisite time staring at the lake and surrounding volcanoes, we began our return.
On our way back, our guide started his horse to trot, then a canter, and yes, even a gallop. Then, my hat flew off. As we made our way back to town, we would ride quickly and then slow down, then quicken our pace again. This starting and stopping allowed me to regain a bit of a sense of comfort before pulling myself to the edge of those boundaries again.
More than a riding lesson
When I know I can back out, even though I have no intention of doing so, I feel more comfortable, more able to keep going, pushing at the edges of my comfort zone. And now, having back up on a horse and down again, I’m looking for stables in Costa Rica, so that when I’m settled for a bit, I can take real lessons. Because there’s this two week ride through the Andes, and I need to know what I’m doing.
What have you been avoiding doing, something you want to get back to but feel nervous (or worse) about trying?
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In the comments:
We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud. What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)