My goals this summer include more involvement with equestrianism, including taking lessons to improve my techniques, plus volunteering to learn about how to loo after horses. But Trent Valley is too far and just going there and returning takes me one day, plus it’s costly. Therefore, I contacted another riding school, called “Saint Leonard’s”, which is 15′ from my students’ hall by bus, on the boarders of Nottinghamshire.
And there we go, at 9:45 am I was at α soaked bus stop, waiting anxiously. I had seen some pictures on their website, but I didn’t have a clear picture of the environment, the atmosphere, the facilities. So, I didn’t know what to expect, include the fact that I could not use my student ID for the bus fare discount!
Soon after I got off the bus and before I reached the property, I began to feel the horsey smell, which for every equestrian is better than lavender. Right from the entrance I could see a busy place with horses, fields, stables, trailers, volunteers. The first horse I met was Leo, a gelding owned by a juvenile classmate. Things seemed quite organized to me, with an office, a staff room, a cafe, a number of stalls with notes on the windows, and, of course, a neat semi-outdoor arena and one smaller, apparently for children.
After spelling my surname, signing and reading the rules, I met my instructor, Judy. She’s a curly-haired, blonde woman, turning 50 that day. I would ride Tyson, a lively 12-year-old gentleman, with a wide back. The lesson, in which there were only three adults including myself, eventually started and Tyson was a real gentleman, who was looking after me. No sticks, no kicks for Tyson. One signal with my tongue was enough for him to trot and a sitting trot was a signal for him to get back into the walk. Tyson, who had a lovely trot, is also known for his beautiful canter, but he wouldn’t do me the favour for that. Judy said that this was happening probably because he could feel under the saddle that I was wobbly, so he would not get to canter, trying to look after me.
Judy had said that a beginners’ lesson might feel dull to me, but this was not true! I had not expected to participate in a beginners’ lesson that would include jump work and cantering! My experience with riding stopped with pole work and some cantering, but nothing special and there I could see primary-school kids and a 70-year-old woman jumping! Judy had the patience to show me how to jump and how to handle the reigns, and Tyson remained a gentleman even on that, stopping instead of bucking me off and waiting for me to collect myself when I lost balance after the jump!
After the lesson, I asked about volunteering and the lady in the office told me that they needed people indeed. For every time you volunteer, you get a free lesson, and this made me very happy! Now I know what to do on weekends!