Okay, what kid doesn't love horses at some point in time? This was another cousin-induced obsession. I'd been going on trail rides at the lake since I was little, and this occurred after the dolphin obsession, probably around grade four.
Daniela and Brynne started it, by buying beautiful plastic model horses. I forget what brand they were, but I'm pretty sure they went out of business. Andrea and I followed suit, and we all started collecting the horses. During summer at the lake, we'd gather in the loft and play with the horses, making up stories.
The summer that I was thirteen, I went to riding camp. I took lessons so that I could be in the advanced group, and all my friends went as well.
Now, in the instructions, they told us to bring boots with heels. Dad, in typical Dad mode, decided that my sneakers were good enough, and I used those.
Fast-forward to camp. Day one, and they were testing our skill to put us into groups. They put me on Warrior, a horse without stirrup covers. Yep, that was the reason you needed boots with heels, so your feet stayed in the stirrups. Because it would be potentially dangerous (oh, the irony) for my sneakers to go in the stirrups, I wasn't allowed to use them.
I was scared as hell. Yes, I realize that it's entirely possible to ride without stirrups, but for me, they're like a safety blanket. It's like biking without a seat- possible, but hard.
Walking was okay. Trotting was scary. Finally, when we were cantering, I neared a bend in the fence of the corral, and fell off the horse.
Next thing I remember, I was on the ground and my head hurt. Everyone was standing around me. They asked me to sit up, and then took me to the Gimli Hospital just to make sure I wasn't seriously injured. It was the same ordeal from when I had fallen on my trumpet case: Boring, Annoying, and Backboard. God, I hate backboards. You can't move, and for a fidgety person like me, it's HELL.
So nothing was wrong. I came back in time for dinner, and they let me take my helmet around to show my friends how broken it was. I wanted to keep it as a souvenir, but nooooooo, they had to send it in to get a replacement. I phoned my parents later, and camp went back to normal. Unfortunately, they kept me in the beginner group all week because they were worried.
I also fell in the artesian well. So yeah, I'm a klutz.
My mom doesn't understand how I could get back on a horse after that, but then again, she doesn't like riding. I guess that's one of the things I love about it, the way it's just you and the horse, like some special communication with it.
I went back again next year, and I didn't fall. My first horse was afraid of paper- he saw my instructor's clipboard and reared. I wasn't on him at the time. My second horse couldn't trot. He had three speeds- walk, canter, gallop. I loved that horse.
Although the helmet saved my life, I still like riding without one, which is what you do at Falcon Lake Riding Stables, where I normally go. It's amazing to be cantering through the trees with the wind in your hair and nothing to stop you.
As much as I love riding, I don't really want to do it competitively. Besides, I'm too tall and too old to start.