Taking horse riding lessons was in my top 3 list of want-to-dos but being in central London meant the costs were prohibitively expensive. So when the Hubs and I came to Brunei for the look-see visit in June, one of the first things that caught my eye was the stables! I made the Hubs drive us over for a more detailed look.
The stables are quite large, with 3 separate rings for lessons and I would guess about 10 to 15 horses. On the bulletin board there was quite a bit of information and I was thrilled to see that the prices were about a third of what London was charging. Hooray!
When we moved properly to KB in October, one of the first things I did was get in touch with the stables for more information. They asked me to come in for an assessment ride. I was very nervous as I hadn’t been on a horse since I was about 6 and that was a pony ride at a carnival of some sort! I got to the stables in good time and went to the office where there are helmuts, boots and body protectors of various sizes that you can borrow and proceeded to kit myself out. Then I wandered over to the “podium” where I stood to get ready to get on the horse.
The horse was a lot taller than I realised so trying to get on was quite comical. I finally managed to hoist myself on and gripped the saddle tightly. I found out very quickly that the saddle is the only thing actually attached to the horse so if I didn’t hold on to that I bounced around a lot and that was not good for someone who was terrified of falling off. The trainer and horse walked (and I rode) over to a ring where I was relieved to see that the ground was covered in a reddish and soft looking sand. I thought, if I get thrown off this horse, at least I won’t be hitting hard ground!
The trainer started off with the basics, how to hold your position on the horse, how to position my feet etc. We then started to walk. A walk on the horse was relatively easy, I just had to sit up straight and position my legs in a straight line and then hold my position. After a while, we moved on to the sitting trot. This was a bit trickier as I kept being bounced around but the idea is that you’re still in the seat of the saddle whilst the horse is trotting so it went ok.
Then we moved on to the racing trot. The idea is that as the horse trots, you stand up and then sit down in rhythm with the horse so you more or less move in harmony with the horse’s natural rhythm. All good and well in theory but this meant that I had to stand up and sit down whilst the horse was moving. Turns out that for me, this is extremely tricky. I was holding on to the saddle for dear life whilst the horse trotted at a good pace. I don’t think the horse liked my rhythm as he kept starting and stopping. This was really difficult as I thought the horse would keep trotting at a consistent speed and so I positioned my body to lean slightly forward. When he stopped suddenly, I kept being thrown onto his neck. Oops… Eventually I got the hang of it a bit more and the horse started trotting for longer periods.
After half an hour the assessment was over and it was time to get off the horse. Back I went to the podium where I attempted to get off the horse with some sort of poise which failed miserably as I basically slid off the horse… After half an hour of trying to do what the trainer was telling me to do and attempting to actually stay on the animal, I was drenched with sweat and absolutely knackered. Despite that, it was so fun! The trainer said he was happy to take me on for lessons so now I’m getting on a horse once a week.
I’ve only had a couple of lessons so far but have learnt quite a few things, like during a racing trot, you’re supposed to stand up when the horse puts his left leg forward and sit down on his right. To make the horse trot, you have to either kick its hind legs or whip them slightly. I felt terrible about this and still do. The first few times the trainer asked me to kick or whip the horse I kind of did so reluctantly, so the horse just kept on walking. The trainer emphasised that I should give him a swift and unambiguous kick so I’m trying to do that without feeling awful.
I’ve also learnt to let go of the saddle and actually am holding the reins now which is what you’re supposed to do. It’s become really fun and interesting as you have to show the horse that you’re the boss by controlling the reins. The trainer told me to drive the horse “like you drive your car” ie if you want the horse to go left, you move the reins left and vice versa.
Being a natural on a horse is still so far away for me. Last week’s lesson was quite difficult as I just couldn’t get into the rhythm with the horse and also I think he was secretly being lazy as it was a blazing hot morning. The week before, I ended up having the lesson in the pouring rain and the horse seemed a lot happier to trot. Unlike my car, the horse sometimes has its own mind!
I’m really enjoying it and hopefully I will learn how to canter soon 🙂