After a day out with friends, I have been down to give the donkeys their evening feed. For once, they were less interested in the food and more interested in me. At least for a few moments. Matilde was sniffing my pullover sleeves, Morris was sniffing my jeans and Rubí was fascinated by the scent still remaining in my boots. They had picked up the heavy scent of horse.
Before today I had never mounted a horse and I have never really felt comfortable in the presence of horses. That comment may seem strange, coming from one who spends a considerable time in the company of donkeys. I suppose they are simply a different kind of animal, and it is not simply the larger size; although the proximity to hooves that are twice the size of my largest donkey’s hooves was a little disconcerting to begin with!
I went riding with a group of friends who had arranged a morning’s ride for a mixed group of experienced and partly experienced riders, so it was an opportunity to have a go for the first time, without having all the focus on me if it was a one-to-one riding lesson. That was a good plan in the end: I feel terribly badly coordinated when it comes to any physical activity, like dancing, wind-surfing, or anything requiring physical responses to an instructor’s verbal commands. It always goes quite wrong and makes me feel self-conscious about my chaotic coordination; there’s a kind of disconnect between verbal instruction and the putting into action of a physical response that matches – even remotely – what is being described! Today was great because I could just get used to the horse, while riding in the group, and not worry too much about constantly failing to do the right thing…
This was a very satisfying first experience of riding a horse and I am grateful to Helen and Wendy for a good introduction to riding a horse, which was something I had not imagined myself doing until very recently! I can thoroughly agree with the statement on the website of Equus Horse Riding that their horses “are wonderful teachers”. My horse Diamante was a very good teacher indeed. He even gave me a very special nose rub on my shoulder when I dismounted, just to say “Well done!” That was the scent picked up by my donkey Matilde, as soon as I got home!