The first inkling I should’ve had that horses were out to get me was when I was eight and a Shetland pony kicked me in the shin. Utterly unprovoked I might add. I wasn’t even waving a Saddle Club book at it trying to get an autograph.
Obviously that moment wasn’t enough to scar me for life, though, because in 2007 I found myself on a horse riding expedition along the beach. Now let me just explain that A) I had never ridden a horse before and B) I had never ridden a horse before what the hell was I thinking?! I like to blame Daryl “The Horses” Braithwaite for being way too inspirational with his lyrics (spoiler alert: he was not there to pick me up, pick me up).
When I arrived at the stables we were matched up with a horse depending on our level of expertise – or severe lack thereof (riding the merry-go-round at the show doesn’t count, I checked). Recalling my knowledge of My Little Pony, I expected my horse to be called something gentle like Cherry Blossom, Flutterby or Buttercup.
My horse’s name was Jet.
Ignoring the alarm bells wailing in my head (“You’ll go riding on the horses, yeah, yeah!”), I went outside to listen to the safety demonstration. My panicked brain remembered something like, “HOLD ON FOR DEAR LIFE AND DON’T DIE!”, which was comforting. One by one we all clambered on to our horses and formed a line behind the instructors. It was then I realised that the shoes I was wearing had barely any grip in the stirrups. Did I inform someone of this little fact you may ask?
Well, this post isn’t called ‘That time when I had a nice horse ride along the beach’, so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about my intelligence.
The first quarter of the trek was actually OK, much to my surprise. There was some slow-paced walking and admiring of scenery and Jet was being the perfect gentleman-horse. ‘Too easy,’ I grinned to myself. ‘How have I not joined a rodeo circuit before?’ As we hit the dense bushland surrounding the beach, though, I soon discovered we were supposed to trot along the world’s smallest pathway. It was like attempting to guide Godzilla across something the width of a toothpick. I somehow ended up surviving that ordeal by thinking WWDBD? – aka What Would Daryl Braithwaite Do? But it was far from over.
Out of all the days to go riding, I had chosen a rare time when there was a king tide at the beach. Basically that meant there were HUMUNGOUS waves overlapping the sand and people and horses alike were freaking out. Just as I was wishing I was on a seahorse instead, the instructors yelled for us to turn around and head back along the precarious toothpick path. Oh, and they also yelled at us to canter this time. Look, I know it’s not quite madcap galloping territory but for a newbie rider like me it was terrifying. (“That’s the way it’s gonna be, little darlin’!” BE QUIET, DAZZA!).
Living up to his name, Jet took off at a million kilometres an hour after his horse friends and it wasn’t long before my runners started giving way in the stirrups. I could feel myself comically tipping sideways in the saddle like a cartoon character, so before I could wind up underneath Jet, I accepted my fate… and idiotically let go of the reins.
I fell to the ground in a giant heap while Jet continued to merrily gallop away and I did the very adult, and not at all embarrassing thing of bursting into tears. The whole group came to a halt while one instructor fetched Jet and the other radioed their most trusted farmhand to come and collect my crumpled form. I’m grateful to the guy for driving me back, but he was 101-years-old at the very minimum, could barely see over the dashboard of his blowfly-infested ute and kept chuckling at me while I nursed my injured thigh and elbow. Thanks, buddy. Needless to say, I was a human-shaped bruise for a fortnight but at least I didn’t break anything. Except my ego! Hahahahaha. *sigh*
As the old saying goes, “If you fall off the horse, get back on”, but in all honesty I’d rather stay off horses entirely and ride something less scary. Like a shark. Or a dinosaur.
“And if you fall I’ll pick youuuuu upppppp.”
Whatever, Daryl. I always liked John Farnham better anyway.