Yesterday, I went riding. Other than a few minutes on a pony once or twice, I have not actually ridden in about 14 years. When I was younger, and riding often, I always thought it was weird that my mom, who loves horses and riding, hadn't been riding in such a long time, every time we did get out together. Now I understand. Adulting is stupid. Adulting gets in the way of a lot of things we may want to do. Whether it is lack of time, lack of money, or both, a lot of times things get away from us. So I have not been riding much. Some of that is Travis is usually with me. Travis loves riding, and is a pretty good rider, but he has always had a leader, or been in an arena with at least a side-walker. I don't know that he is able to follow the instructions on a trail. Even though it's basic pull this rein to go left, that rein to go right, pull back to stop, kick to go, I don't know that he would do what is needed when it is needed. Actually, I am pretty sure he would not. And I don't know that I can get any trails to do lead-line with an adult. But yesterday, Travis and Ethan hung out and I went out with my friend Brandi and her daughter Tierney. Tierney has wanted to ride a horse for a long time. Her birthday was last week so Brandi brought her riding for a gift. And they invited me to come along.
We went out to Princeton, MA to a place called Cornerstone Ranch. There is at least one place closer to us, where I used to lead trails when I was a teenager, but Brandi didn't know about that one and I like trying new things. Or old things in new places. Cornerstone Ranch is a really nice place. A bit of a drive to get out there, but that just means more time to chat. The staff at the ranch was very professional, but also friendly and fun. From start to finish it was a really good experience. They don't allow cell phones on the rides, so there are no photos before, after, or during the ride. Though at the end they do take some pictures of your group, and some individual shots as well.
Which is how I ended up with these not so flattering photos of me and my horse, Target. There are a lot of things they do at Cornerstone that they never did at the place I used to ride. They start by asking if anyone has ridden before. They match up horses with the riders, then everyone gets on and we do some stretches (a bit of horseback yoga), they go over the basics of steering and stopping, the importance of spacing, etc. We had a bunch of first time riders in our group, and 3 of the 7 people were kids. There was a ton of mud on the trail (I have mentioned, I think, that it rains ALL THE TIME in Massachusetts these days, haven't I?) So between first time riders, deep mud, and a lot of puddles, we just did a walking trail. But it was still fun. And I still got to use riding skills. Target was described to me as the kid with ADHD and anxiety, who's a little bit derpy. Well, that's fine with me. I was warned he is a head tosser, which doesn't phase me. I told our guide that I once had a horse take off on me when I had one foot in the stirrup, head tossing is nothing. The description of Target was spot on (or right on Target...). He was distracted by itches, by flies, by the wind, by the horse in front of him, by the guide who was sometimes walking beside us. That was a very interesting thing they did. One of the wranglers walked with us on the trail, up and down the line, helping people as needed, and chatting with Brandi and I about teaching. She is a teacher too. So we swapped teacher stories and covid/hybrid/remote learning horror stories.
You may have noticed Target's really cool hairstyle. Well, he is even annoyed and distracted by his own forelock. Poor guy. At one point he had an itch on his shoulder, so he scratched it and tripped a bit. What a goof. He's a rescue and apparently when he first came to the ranch he was so full of anxiety about being left behind he could not be at the end of the line of horses. We were at the end and I reassured him every time I stopped him (because he would have been happy right up Lenny's butt) that we were not going to get lost, we were still with the group. I promised him he'd be OK. He seemed to believe me.
I had a good time riding Target, meeting and chatting with our guide Olivia, getting to ride with Brandi and Tierney. This morning I feel basically like I always do, with only some minor aches. I am surprised. Maybe all the on-the-floor yoga I have been doing has been helping me more than I knew. We have a little bit over a month of public stables riding weather left. Maybe we can go out again. I definitely need to work on spending more time with horses. It's good for my soul.