Friday, January 14, 2011

I, Equitator: Day One (w/ photos)

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Personal: It’s All About ME

I, Equitator: Day OneDay TwoDay ThreeDay FourDay FiveDay SixDay SevenDay EightDay Nine

And so, today I had my first(-ever) horse-riding lesson. (Well, sorta.) I loved it.

Firstly, a brief, sorta-obligatory history: I’m a complete and total n00b (scratch that; I’m what N00b himself watches for entertainment whilst giving a great condescending guffaw) when it comes to – well, most things in life, it continually seems. One of these is horseback riding. So, for once, my (mild) Asperger’s and (mild) Tourette’s diagnoses were gonna come in handy, as services exist for allowing handicapped kids to learn to take care of, and eventually ride, horses as therapy. Whether or not I actually need therapy is, at best, debatable, and I just thought it would be a way to finally use my diagnoses in a manner that helped me.

And so, skipping the boring details, I finally found myself at Equi-Sens [French], a non-profit organization offering equitation services for those suffering from various sorts of psychological or physical handicaps. Working my natural magical charms, I was duly accepted, though the slight problem of my weight (being, say, 15% over their average 200-lbs limit) meant I ended up with their biggest and strongest steed, an all-white female Percheron named Charlotte. I, personally, would’ve loved one of those sleeker, silk-furred quarter horses, but I suppose potential risks of equine spinal injuries, along with the accompanying heart-eating guilt and wallet-slaying veterinary bills, take precedence over my vague aesthetic preferences.

So, anyway. I’ve been scheduled for 10 classes in total, every Friday morning at 11 AM, ending on March 18 (hereby referred to as The Saddest Day of All). Today was my first. Things went pretty well, punctuated with a few minor hiccups and instances of skull-cracking scares here and there.

Yeah, turns out horses are jumpy as all hell when it comes to sudden sounds and movements. Charlotte was particularly nervous, constantly jumping every now and then whenever someone swept a broom nearby or even so much as flipped open a cellphone. One memorable instance had the great white beast jump like a pricked cat when a stable helper slipped and fell, at which point she reared back and tore her hackamore apart, sending the restraining chains flying and me running for the nearest box. (Hey, we’ll see how you react when a massive bloody beast suddenly goes berserk and sends bands of metal flying through the air.) I was told these things happen extremely rarely, though, so naturally, they did in my very first lesson. No harm, though; the hackamore was eventually replaced and the class resumed without further ado.

As my regular teacher, Chantal, was absent today, and because I had never so much as seen a horse in person for more than five minutes in my life, the day’s activities were kept simple and limited. I spent my hour simply learning some of the equipment (italicized to indicate, holy crap, that’s a lot of equipment) and how to brush the horse correctly. Turns out you don’t just use your grandmother’s old comb. Who knew.

In the meantime, I remembered I had brought my brand new camera (12 megapixels!) and managed to snap a couple of shots of my pretty snow-furred lady:

That’s pretty much all that happened at Equi-Sens today. Now, actually getting there without a functioning GPS was an adventure in itself, but that’s another story.

Until next week, then. I was told I might get to ride Charlotte then! Ooh, the anticipation.