I started riding again last week. Today was my second lesson with the RDA at the Drum Estate out of town, where I used to ride when I was a youngster. Starting again after a break of over thirty years, I feel a curious mix of familiarity and strangeness: Strange to feel as I felt back then, a mix of yearning, excitement and trepidation; odd to feel nostalgic about the familiar scents and sights, and to realise how much time has passed. It is reassuring to know that I am now a grown-up and can meet and greet as I choose, with the freedom to be myself.
Posture is the big thing. I enjoy the discipline, and feel shaken to my core by the pain in my thighs, reminiscent of earlier, uglier agonies. All my nerves jump around as they try to discover a different and straighter equilibrium. I am assured that this will get easier and improve. Now, without the teenage angst and uncertainty pulling me back, I can listen more trustingly, and believe what I am told about how to sit, how to move, and about breathing deeply. If I breathe calmly, my mount will pick up on that, and we can be relaxed together.
I love to be back, and I welcome the new friendship, where I discover, yet again, that I have so much in common with others. They too have frailties and physical issues that they ignore, work with and endeavour to get past. I am not alone in that, or in anything else. The realisation that I am in such excellent company makes me at once tearfully grateful to be reminded, and sorry that I wasted so much time in isolated regret. Thank God, I am waking up. At last, I am getting over myself.
Now – sit up straight. I don’t want to waste this chance I have been given.
January 13, 2015
I Found My Seat
Fran Macilvey allowing, change, gratitude, Health, horse-riding, learning Fran's School of Hard Knocks 13 Comments
This morning, riding out at Gilmerton in freezing temperatures, gloveless and probably wearing all the wrong attire, I couldn’t keep the grin off my face. Such happiness felt almost indecent, actually, but even that sober reflection could not force my mouth into a straighter line. While my helpers were struggling to keep warm and jumping around to unfreeze their extremities, I smiled inanely, filled with gratitude. I was instructed and counselled so carefully, and after a sore start, my legs settled down. Then, magically, with a straighter back and lengthening legs, sitting up from the hips instead of leading with my head, the pain left and I found my seat. I finally discovered what it means to sit on a horse properly, and move easily, go with the flow.
Yes, it felt odd to be sitting straight; but I am left wondering how often I have used my back mistakenly, forcing it to take responsibilities that should really, in the natural way of things, devolve more comfortably to the hips. Afterwards, returning to the car with that feeling fresh in my mind, I tried walking from the hips (instead of leaning forward, my head leading the way) and found that an unaccustomed straightness and unusual confidence was the outcome. Immediately, I wanted to go back and say, ‘Hey! Karen! You’ve taught me a new way to walk!! YAY!’
Quite an achievement for an unassuming class on a Tuesday morning. Must tell the ladies next week, how much I appreciate them. Would a box of chocolates and a large bunch of flowers be a bit over the top? Probably, but then – just imagine! Now, if I remember to walk from the hip, my view casts itself naturally up and outwards, instead of tilting uneasily towards the ground. Confidence lower in the body – instead of massive overcompensation in the back, neck and shoulders – translates into calmness, and awareness of what is happening on the horizon. It’s rather as if I have finally been given a pair of spectacles for distance, instead of being forced to wear reading glasses outside.