Opinion about riding a horse is probably divided between those that won’t try it at any price and those that absolutely adore it and spend as much time as possible either on the back of a horse or doing all the things associated with horses, such as mucking out stables, grooming the horse and cleaning tack. For those in the latter group, there is something immensely therapeutic about just being around horses, whether it’s leaning on a gate on a summer evening watching a group of horses grazing, watching a new foal with its overlong legs wobble around its mother, or just scratching a horse’s neck whilst it leans companionably on your shoulder.
Of course, riding is great fun, though it can also often result in aching muscles, a sense of total inadequacy and frustration that what seems to be so easy for others is eluding us with a vengeance! Like any other sport, it takes time to achieve any kind of competence and having a really good instructor is also very important.
Once the basic skills have been developed, riding offers innumerable challenges and a huge range of possibilities. The first time you ride out on your own, or with friends, with complete freedom about where to go, when to trot, or canter if the ground is suitable, is a pleasure that never wains. Even riding in pouring rain can be fun, though it’s a good idea to have a decent waterproof for comfort!
For those fortunate enough to have their own horse, there is nothing better than hacking around country lanes, in woods or across moorland tracks. The thrill of galloping along, with the wind rushing past and both you and your horse revelling in the speed is like nothing else.
Then there’s jumping. Not everyone wants to learn to jump and not every horse enjoys it, but if both horse and rider are keen, the mixture of anticipation, excitement and achievement when you (or more truthfully your horse!) take a jump just right, is wonderful. Make no mistake, your horse knows far more about what to do than you do. You can steer in the right direction, encourage the most suitable pace for the size and type of jump, but you have to know and trust your horse to get you over. The breathless exhilaration after a successful jump is a wonderful sensation.