I've had some amazing adventures on horseback. From riding insane Arab stallions on the beaches of Morocco to monthly pub rides on horseback across the fields of Enfield north of London.
I first learnt to ride when I was 11. My horse was a white pony called Snowman and I used to ride him all over the dusty hills of Thousand Oaks, California. He was slow going out but v speedy coming home. My mum trained him to bow. When my family moved back to New Zealand several years later, Snowman was sold to Universal Studios. He can be seen in the movie, Sheba Queen of the Jungle, and stars as a Zebroid - half horse, half Zebra.
I began riding again in the UK in 2007. My first horse was an old school master - Conan - he was about 100 in human years and missing lots of teeth. I spent the first few lessons on him - he was a sweet horse who did everything he was told, but he was retired.
So, they gave me Jim, a half shire, hairy beast with a moustache and one wall eye. He's an absolute character and I've fallen in love with him.
He's great to ride, has feet like dinner plates (see picture), can be very naughty if not taught who's the boss and can canter at break neck speed.
He loves apples and will gobble them up, frothing at the mouth. He leans on you when you clean his huge feet and loves food - as do all the horses at the equastrian centre. He's very well mannered too. Many of the horses have learnt to kick their stable doors for food and attention. Jim just waits patiently.
Each lesson is an hour of sweat and concentration but I'm working out his little nuances - such as trying to pull into the middle all the time, only cantering for about four feet before slowing down, walking around with his inside shoulder forward and constantly testing the rider. But I think we now have an understanding and he's responding to my legs more. I've even taken him hacking in the woods.
Although he nearly wiped me out on a couple of branches, he's brilliant to ride - so big and large and hairy. You feel like you're riding a woolly mammoth not a horse. We've had lots of adventure together - some scary- and I wish I could take him home with me. He could live in my neighbour's backyard.
Update - August 2012. Jim has gone back to Epping to live with his owner. :( He'll be much happier out there in open spaces. The last report I had was that he was happily eating fruit cake at the nearby cafe. I'm hoping to visit him one day.
September 2013 - My darling Jim has died. He had a heart attack while in Epping with his owner. He was such a young horse and his death is so upsetting. But at least his last year was spent in relative happiness with his owner, Richard. RIP Jimmy boy.
Labels: equestrian, hacking, Horses, London