So yesterday was my birthday and I decided to go riding in Brockenhurst, which is in the New Forest about two hours from London by train. It's not really new though - William the Conqueror named the area his 'new' hunting forest in 1079.
Ive been riding there for years and I love it. It's my spiritual home. We ride 'free' through the New Forest - as in not on bridle paths - and it's magic and so much fun cantering past the New Forest ponies and up hills, over dale. The colours change with each season. Golden Amber in Autumn, icy and snowy in Winter, purple from the Heather in Spring.
Yesterday however I had a rubbish ride. It was my first visit in seven months and I was unprepared for the wide open spaces. I've been riding since I was 15 but apart from the odd riding holiday, most of my work is in a school or in rows on hacks and pub rides. Sometimes I get to 'free' ride when I'm home in New Zealand but for some reason yesterday I developed some sort of horses-related agoraphobia plus the horses were a little too fresh!
My first horse Dolly was so FAT I couldn't get my legs around her belly so I basically sat on her withers and clung on. It was so unnerving as I felt so out of control and she was so jumpy. Plus my legs stopped working. They were like jelly and I was flopping around on her back like Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz. Legs literally all over the place. No wonder she was spooked! Comedy riding.
She sprang into a bush mid canter - I mean who wouldn't? - so I swapped her for a small evil pony which bolted and galloped so fast I lost a contact lens! I could not stop the damn thing. I pulled with all my might on its rein which made it go faster. Arrrggghhh. I finally managed to turn him as we were going straight for a bush but we were going so fast I thought we were going to flip into the brambles like a roller derby. All I could hear was the instructor lady way way behind me hollering 'slow him down!' 'I'm trying!" I hollered back as insects smashed into my teeth.
I eventually stopped him, me shaking like a leaf, him snorting and shaking his head with excitement like a head banger at a concert. We had to send him back to the stables and I got driven home with my tail between my legs. I even had a wind burnt face and there was no wind apart from that which the pony caused.
I gave up riding for the day - my nerves shot, and went for a half blind walk around Brockenhurst instead with my camera. So the day wasn't completely lost! And I'll get back in the saddle next week.
Here are some of the images I took while wandering around beautiful Brockenhurst ... I hope they're in focus. I couldn't see very well ...
Labels: Brockenhurst, England, nature, New Forest, wildlife