Yesterday afternoon I watched my regular red horse speaks partner Sue get ready to hack out her new young horse for the first time. She lunged him before carefully mounting and set off with her son as mounted escort on her older horse Tom. She’s a very experienced horsewoman but I could see that she was nonetheless a little anxious about this adventure, even although the horse had gone well for her in the arena.
As I watched her get ready to leave, I remembered my first solo hack with Chelsea and was very glad no-one had told me it was not very sensible to ride out alone on a horse you didn’t know very well (especially in the days before mobile phones)! I had met Chelsea a couple of days before and ridden her out with others the previous day and she had been very good (it was actually the ONLY time she was ever good in company!!) and, as my sole riding ambition was to ride out on my own, it seemed logical to me that I should see whether she was willing to do this – so off we went. Admittedly Chelsea was nearly seven and not exactly a baby but she had only just arrived at the yard and was still a bit unsettled. We had a magical time – the first of many happy hours spent together just by ourselves over all kinds of terrain and in all weathers. As I tucked her up last night, I gave her a special pat and thanked her for looking after me on that very first solo hack. . Knowing what I know now, that was much more down to her than anything to do with my riding skills. There was a big helping of “ignorance is bliss” on my part too – in this case definitely a good thing! She always did take care of me too. Even at first when she was spooky and her brakes were not very reliable, I never felt unsafe. Even when I fell off her, as I did a couple of time, she just came back to me and waited for me to remount.
Although she’s retired from riding, I’m sure the partnership we built up out and about still helps us as we work together with our clients and I hope that her memories of our riding adventures are as sweet as mine. I also hope Sue has as much fun with her new horse and they too establish a lasting bond.