Horse-back riding conjures up images of a loving relationship between you and a horse, with the two of you cantering off into the sunset in harmonious rapture.
People often have visions of horse-back riding where their horse loves to carry them around and obeys every command smoothly and gracefully.
Unfortunately, the reality is often very different.
Horse-back riding is one of the most difficult skills to master.
Not only do you have to learn to balance on a horse’s back without hanging on, you also have to learn to control your horse by using your legs ‘just so’ and holding the reins with just the right amount of tension.
Then you have to plan exactly where you want your horse to go, what gait you want him to be in and how fast you want him to move.
And when you’re trying to balance and hold your reins, your horse makes things harder by pulling the reins from your hands or kicking up just when you happen to be a little off- balance or shying and ducking sideways when you least expect it.
Horse-back riding is not for the fainthearted.
Meanwhile, while you’re concentrating on a hundred things at once, your horse has his own agenda.
Though you plan to ride off into the sunset, you discover that your horse wants to stop and eat the grass or run back to the stable to be with his friends.
Whenever my father watched a novice rider, he always said, ‘He hasn’t got his thousand miles up.’
My father always believed that there was no substitute for riding and riding and riding your horse.
And when you’d ridden for a thousand miles, at least you’d be relaxed and balanced in the saddle and ready to learn the finer details.
It’s going to take a long time to accumulate your thousand miles if you only ride on the weekend.
If you’re happy doing this, that’s fine.
But if you want to really learn and improve, you have to devote a lot more time to riding your horse.
And your horse will always respond better if he’s ridden five or six days a week.
On one hand, horse-back riding can be great fun, completely fascinating and totally absorbing.
On the other hand – as anyone who rides horses will know – it can be one of the most difficult and frustrating pastimes on earth.
When you ride, you must be determined to the point of pig-headedness and you must be soft and caring to the point of utter indulgence.
The hardest part of horse-back riding is knowing when to be pig-headed and when to be soft and caring – because if you get it wrong, it won’t be much fun for you or your horse.