Jo Ann J. Lovelace

I had never seen a real live horse in my life until my husband talked me into going horseback riding. We planned to rent a horse but were told by the manager I should take lessons since I was inexperienced.
How much experience does a person need to climb in the saddle, I thought. Yet it was easy to talk me into taking the lessons. I could put off mounting that huge animal for another week. Maybe by the time my riding lesson rolled around I could think of some reason to skip it like coming down with a cold and maybe even the flu or just not feeling well.
Monday came much faster than usual it seemed. I was reluctant but went for the lesson. I couldn't bring myself to create some fake illness to get out of going. How bad could it be anyway? "It was only for an hour," I said to myself. "I could breeze through the lesson and not have a scratch on me."
The first lesson was easy, we went to the indoor arena and I mounted a huge bay mare. She appeared to be bored as I was. I think she may have been happier than me when it was over.
The second lesson wasn't too bad. We rode in the outdoor ring at a trot but when the horse was cued to canter my first thought was whoa! I'll never be a cowgirl.
The third lesson was in the indoor arena and I was almost certain the instructor used it to torture people although he said it was to teach balance. I was on a rough trotting horse that jiggled every part of my body and I wasn't allowed to use the stirrups or hold on to the reins. I had sore muscles that I didn't even realize were there before getting on that horse. I was so miserable I couldn't sit, walk, lie down or stand without the desire to scream out in agony. I decided right then and there I had to be temporarily unbalanced to have agreed to take five riding lessons.
The fourth lessons wasn't that bad. It was pretty much a repeat of lesson number one. We rode in the outdoor ring. I had already decided to grit my teeth and bare it. After all you should never start something unless you intend to finish it.
When I went for the final lesson I was told we would complete the riding course by going on a trail ride. Sounds pretty good to me I thought. At least we'll get to see some scenery. We went up a hill; I would have sworn a Billy goat couldn't climb. We turned around once we reached the top and the instructor cued his horse. I couldn't believe he was actually going to ride back down that steep hill. You should have seen how fast I dismounted my horse. No, I thought. I've been bounced, joggled, scared half to death and soreness covers my entire body and I absolutely refuse to ride down that hill.
Before I knew it the instructor had convince me I wasn't in any danger and the horse was very capable of making it down the hill. Who knows I thought. Maybe I was cut out to be a cowgirl after all. I took a deep breath and made a spectacle of myself by mounting the horse from the right side instead of the left. He didn't seem to mind and looked at me in amusement because of my inability to cope with the situation. We made it to the bottom in one piece and I'll have to say I was glad it was over.
You're probably thinking I never wanted to see another horse long as I lived but that wasn't the case. I was hooked on horses especially Nobility the horse that was used for most of my lessons. I received Nobility as a Christmas gift that year and I couldn't learn enough about horses. I studied for hours and was fascinated with everything I read about horse care, horse behavior, horse management; you name it, if it had to do with a horse I'd buy it.
The day I took my first lesson I would have never thought I would learn to ride much less become a riding instructor but it was like an obsession with me. I wanted to do my best at everything.
The children my husband and I taught were usually confident and it brought us great pleasure knowing we had taught them to ride. When some poor adult came in wanting to take lessons scared out of their wits but determined to do it anyway. I saw myself taking my first lessons and I knew how they felt. It was easy putting myself in their place and helping them cope with their fears. We turned out some good riders and I'm really glad I decided to go horseback riding. I may not have quite made it as a cowgirl I thought. But stable manager and instructor as well as a cowboy's wife isn't bad for a start. Does that make me a cowboy's sweetheart?

Copyright © 1998  Jo Ann Lovelace. All Rights Reserved.