My First Time
I literally rushed out of the car, dragging my mum out of her seat.
“Come on, Mum! Hurry up!”
“Coming, coming! Goodness, no need to rush, we’re still fifteen minutes early!” Mum laughed, as we walked over to the place where everyone was riding. What was it called again? An arena?
We passed loads of stables, with different horses hanging their heads over the side, looking at us. So many horses! Looking at them only made me want to get on one even quicker.
However, I became shy when I saw everyone around us; girls cleaning out the stables, people waiting for lessons and a woman at the desk, signing people in, and, obviously, the owner of the establishment. I was obviously new to the place, and knew nothing about it. I felt so left out! I stood there in a jacket, jodhpurs (which are a special type of riding leggings), and boots, not knowing what to do.
Mum, however, was completely the opposite. She marched into the little reception area, where the owner was scribbling something in a massive book, and said, “Hello–” The owner lifted her head up “–We’re here for a private lesson. Yes, it’s for Ellie.”
The woman consulted her big book and nodded.
“Yes, hello, Ellie. I’m Rosanna, and I will be your instructor for today. Before anything else, would you like to book for next week?” she smiled at my mum.
I looked at Mum and nodded vigorously. She hesitated, but finally said, “Okay, then. Next Saturday please. Private.”
After Mum had paid for the lesson and Rosanna fitted me out with the correct size helmet, she looked at me.
“Okay, so it looks like you’re going to be riding… Duke today. Ooh, he’s a big fella, quite easy to ride, though. So, is this your first time on a horse?”
“Yeah, and I’m a little nervous. But excited!”
Rosanna laughed. We came to a stable, where a beautiful chestnut stallion was tacked up (which, I learnt, means has his saddle and bridle put on).
Rosanna told me to lead him down to the arena. When we got there, there were already a few people with their horses, and looking really smart whilst riding. I gawped at them.
“Now, would you like to stand on the mounting block,” she pointed at a couple of steps near the gate. I stood on the top one, and waited. Rosanna led Duke next to me, told me to hold the reins in my left hand, hold onto the front of the saddle with my right, pop my left foot in the stirrup and swing myself over.
I did all of that with no difficulty. Though when I saw how high I was, I felt startled. And when the horse shifted under me, I became even more scared.
“You know, I think standing here is enough for me the first lesson,” I said with a forced smile.
Rosanna burst out laughing. “Then you’re never going to get anywhere with horse riding!”
For the first few minutes she taught me how to stop, start and steer. I got the hang of it really quickly, and all the while Mum was videoing, but I was still cautious of moving on the horse, and so we walked slowly.
Then came the words that set the butterflies off in my stomach, but made me feel excited: “Okay, we can maybe move onto trot now! I’ll lead the horse, and you just hold onto the saddle front, okay? We’ll start with posting trot. That’s when you rise up and down. It goes with a beat of 1-2-1-2-1-2.”
After that, slowly, slowly, we rose up into a trot. At first I didn’t know what to do at all, I was just bouncing around like a sack of potatoes, and just focused on holding as tight as I could onto the saddle, but then Rosanna started counting out loud, “1-2-1-2…” and I rose and fell in time with her words.
“Now, Ellie! Don’t lean forward so much! Relax and move with the horse, not against it.”
By the end of the hour, I was breathless, huffing and puffing, but it was well worth it. I slid off the horse, with my legs aching and my forehead beaded with sweat, while my Mum congratulated me, showing me the videos. You could see by the expression on my face that I was doing all I could!
“Ellie’s been fantastic,” Rosanna gushed. “She’s caught up with everything so quickly. I think she’s a natural!”
Inside I cheered. This was going to be amazing!