At some point I'll get into a bit more detailed background on myself, but for now I wanted to take the plunge and get a journal thread started here! I've actually been journalling privately, just to keep track of my progress, but it's weird to just... type into the void. Sharing stories with people and getting the odd bit of feedback sounds lovely!
A bit about myself: I'm currently in my mid-30s, but the horse thing for me started waaaaay back. As a very small child, I used to go on public trail rides once or twice a year with my family. And by "as a small child," I mean I was teeny enough that I would ride double, in front of my dad on the saddle, for the first few years. This graduated to me being big enough for my own horse on the rides, then doing their summer day camp, and eventually wanting more out of the experience than a nose-to-butt public trail ride.
My first lessons were from a place that advertised on local tv. HORSES? Near ME?? LESSONS??? So, I was of course all over having my parents sign me up for THAT. I think I was 10 or 11 at the time. The (very few) good things I'll say about it are that I tried English riding there for the first time and loved it, and that I met two girls who would later be good friends of mine in my teens (and one of whom I'm still in contact with). At some point I'll do an entry about my, er, "adventures" at this place. I'll just say that I didn't even finish out one season there before my dad pulled me out in a rage in the middle of a lesson. (The rage was directed at the instructor, not me, and with good reason.)
At this point, being 11 and having had maybe 3 months of (bad) lessons (and having saved my own chore and birthday money for my entire life up to that point), I was of COURSE ready to start horse shopping.
So I started religiously browsing the local classifieds. For whatever reason, I bought a saddle BEFORE buying a horse, and the people who sold me the saddle told me about a "WONDERFUL" horse they knew of, up for sale. Again, more stories about that purchase, but I bought TOO MUCH horse for me.
After a traumatizing year with him, that I swear I still have PTSD from, I sold him and bought a talented, wonderful, spunky yet bombproof finished Western horse... and proceeded to convert her to English which in hindsight feels like such a waste of her beautiful neck reining training, but I digress. She was a fun, solid partner for a year before developing bad arthritis in one hock, and while we managed it reasonably well and still had great adventures, eventually she went back to her old owners as a pet, as she got worse instead of fusing.
I was pretty depressed after that, and I wasn't sure what was next for me, until a flyer showed up at the vet clinic where I worked. A new lesson place was starting up! I immediately called and booked something, and my first lesson there was better than even any clinic I'd ridden in up to that point. The instructor was young but experienced, and I rode a lovely, experienced, push button A Circuit horse who was better than anything I'd ever ridden. Even though the horse and I had a spectacular wipeout in the mud during my very first lesson, I loved it and came back! I had three seasons of hunter lessons at this place, and they were some of the best times I've ever had riding. I learned so much!
Then... life happened. I finished high school, I started dating, I moved to a big city to attend university... and somehow late teens became early 30s with little to no riding in there at all. Sure, I went on a public trail ride every couple of years with friends, and at one point I took a semi-private lesson with two friends (and then couldn't walk right for over a week because I tried to ride "like I used to")... I would go to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair every year and my heart would pitter patter at all the horses and I'd imagine myself riding again, but I never acted on it because money and time were always so tight, and I had no vehicle.
Three years ago, though, a business opportunity in a more rural place opened up, and I decided to leave the city and go for it. My partner said to me, "Hey, you could start riding again once we've moved up there!" and I was like "Hmm, yeah, I suppose I could. Yeah, I might do that," but the move was so stressful, and so was the new business, that I didn't act on it for about the first month and a half. He actually pushed me to finally pull the cord on that!
I thought to myself, "I don't want to take lessons or anything. I'm rusty but I'm sure with practice I could just pick it up again. All I want is access to a nice easygoing horse that I can partboard to ride down some quiet roads or trails."
And so I searched around for a partboard and found a new riding facility that was opening up here, and some of the available horses sounded great. Well... they weren't. I wound up "accidentally" taking lessons every week, trying different horses at this same place to see if any were the right fit, and none of them were. They were either so poorly schooled that they wouldn't even go forward, or they were so dead to the leg and whip that even mustering a trot was a workout. When the situation actually worsened, I started losing sleep and decided to get the heck on out of there.
I looked around online for another facility, somewhere with partboards. And I found one that looked nicer, better, actually more affordable, and with a coach with actual accreditation! Woohoo! I called her up to ask about partboarding, told her about my riding history, and she suggested I come out and do a lesson to see if one of her horses might be right for me to partboard.
I did and it was WONDERFUL. The coach was incredibly knowledgeable. It was one of, if not THE, best lessons I'd had up to that point. And the horse... I think a chorus of angels started singing when I put my leg on to move her over AND IT WORKED.
Me, on the other hand... Let's just say it wasn't pretty. Especially not at the canter. There was a lot of... thumping. And bumping. And a big realization of just how fit I WAS NOT, and that fifteen years without regular riding might as well be a life time, and how long this road might be!
Tactfully, neither the coach nor I ever mentioned the independent part board idea again, and I went straight into weekly lessons.
And thus began my journey as... AN ADULT RE-RIDER!
A LOT has changed since that point, of course, but I've been with the same coach and on the same horse ever since, with a few lessons here and there on different horses and/or with different coaches just to shake things up! More stories to come!