I’ve loved horses (specifically unicorns and pegasi hehe) since I was 9 years old. They were my favorite subjects to draw despite the challenges of their complex forms. Ever since seeing the movie, “Secretariat,” my love for horses has especially deepened. They’re both noble and beautiful creatures. It’s their big stature and power which really scares me so I never would have thought I would ever get the nerve to ride one. Recently my husband saw a LivingSocial.com coupon for a 1/2 hour horseback riding lesson at Larkspur Farm, Connecticut. He encouraged me to give horseback riding a try and I’m very grateful he did.
As we were driving to Larkspur, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach. I tried to re-focus myself. We (my husband had a 1/2 hour lesson too though he had ridden a few times before we met) registered and put our riding hats on. While fussing with my hat, a tall and handsome 9 year-old gelding warmblood (patched white and dark chocolate coat) approached with his handler. I remembered thinking this wonderful steed would be my first school horse and smiled to myself.
Domino was afraid to walk downhill and needed much encouragement. I felt empathy towards him and hoped he would one day overcome this fear. We met Amy, our instructor at the indoor sand paddock. I liked that she, like Domino, was pretty patient with me. Domino was all too happy at the slow pace I wanted to keep. I found out that Larkspur acquired him about a year ago from his previous owner (who wanted to train him for dressage and jumping but realized he wasn’t the best fit for those activities). Sometimes his slow sleepy movements would even turn into a full stop. I would then give him a little squeeze with my legs to remind him to continue walking. We were mostly circling around the paddock clockwise and counter-clockwise, and towards the end of the lesson we were navigating over ground poles. I was amazed how sensitive he was to even a small pull on the reigns or adjustments to my body position when I needed him to turn.
It was a great first experience and he was a great first horse with a really sweet temperament! Although, I do admit that while walking him back to the barn, he was quite adamant about feeding off of the hay bale which quickly drew his attention along our path- naughty boy! Imagine trying to tug an animal that’s 1400+ lbs away from his object of desire?! He did warn me though that he wanted to go back a couple of paces, by blowing a small grunt and giving me a nudge on my right shoulder. We finally got him back to the barn and fed him some carrot treats we brought from home. We also fed his neighbors carrots too, that is, the ones with no dietary restrictions. One of his neighbors was so cute. He tried to get my attention by cocking his head sharply to the side and giving a little whinny as if to say, “how about me? Can I have a carrot too?” Of course we gave him one =). I only wish we had brought more.
I really miss Domino and wish that he was mine! If only the care and keep of a horse wasn’t that expensive and if only I had more leisure time (it’s heartbreaking to not spend any time with a horse you own)! Hopefully I’ll get to ride him again in the near future =). ‘Til then I can only hope he’s happy and living a good life at Larkspur.
*As an aside, I also have the Larkspur/Domino experience to thank for allowing me to cross off yet another item from my “feed bucket” list- a second pair of ear piercings. I’ve been wanting to wear studs and hoops badly. I was about 9 years old and the first experience left me with a horrible memory- it was quite painful. In fact, I cried my eyes out and squirmed back then like the Piercing Pagoda, Danbury Mall CT customer several weeks back. No tears this time; didn’t even flinch =). My trip to Danbury was a spontaneous one and one that I will always be pleased about. Jump and a net will appear before you!