Last Friday I took my first vaulting lesson with the university’s riding club. The equestrian club we had booked the lesson with specialises in vaulting and it is quite far from Nottingham, in Warwickshire, 1 1/2 hour by car.
I hadn’t been to Warwickshire before. It’s a beautiful area, whose flora is similar to the Cretan one -except for asparangus, which is not produced in Crete. It’s just so different from Nottinghamshire, which is colder, wetter, and more windy, as a result of the height of its location. I could never imagine myself getting a sunburn in Britain, but yes, it happened to me in Warwick.
When we finally got there, I noticed that the horses were huge! Gorgeous, but huge! We soon met Julie, the instructor, who has been to Greece. She was excited to find out I’m from Crete. I love my homeland, it’s true. However, when people get excited, I feel a bit weird.
Julie declared to us a few times that vaulting is not riding, but gymnastics. The lesson eventually began and I had to face a few challenges; it was the first time I was doing equestrian sports outdoors, and the fact that I was doing something like vaulting for first time one month before my 30th birthday felt strange at its own. Firstly, we started warming up and stretching in a field next to the arena, accompanied by a little dog and the Julies cute grand daughter.
Then we moved to the barrel, where Megan showed us the basics. And then, one by one, we were moving to the horse. So, eventually my turn came. The barrel was nice. Stable and safe. But the horse? I had to try not to think too much about it, so I started gazing at the British scenery, as we were moving on the circle. I was a nightmare as a trainee for Julie, for sure! First, I would not let go of my leg for her to throw me to the back of the horse; “Are you fighting me?”, she asked. Oh, let alone the instructions. She thought I did not trust her, as I was staring at her with my ears focused on her speech and my eyes focused on her lips. I reminded her that English is a foreign language to me and I was receiving instructions outdoors at that moment.
The most terrifying thing was the canter. I almost fell about twice, while I was just doing sitting positions. Boris was quite bouncy and my legs could not steadily grip on his sides. I just kept slipping, but the fact that I stayed there was something positive, or so I believe. It’s the too much thinking again. When Boris started cantering, I was thinking that I was cantering without almost bareback and without reigns. This feeling that I cannot control things as much as I want to drives me crazy. So, I tried not to think or feel anything, I was just gazing at the British countryside. It seemed so beutiful, by the way; sliding on the vast green valleys, my eyes reached the horizon. It looked like a painting!
Julie invited Megan to join me on horseback. She helped me a lot not to think about what I was doing! So, here’s a hilarious dialogue:
ME: I’m trying not to think about it!
MEGAN: Exactly! So, what are you having for dinner tonight?
ME: Em, I don’t remember!
MEGAN: You don’t remember what you will have for dinner??
ME: I guess I have pancakes in my fridge, and some milk, and some golden syrup…
MEGAN: Are you going to add strawberries?
ME: No, I don’t have any strawberries, but I have appricots (‘aprɪˌkɒts)
Megan and Julie started laughing.
JULIE: Christina, we are in England now. It’s called ˈeɪprɪˌkɒts , not ‘aprɪˌkɒts !
And the horse kept doing its job while I was repeating the word ˈeɪprɪˌkɒt . Whatever, as long as it was keeping me distracted! Urgh! When will I stop overthinking on horseback??
Apart from the fact that I had managed to turn a lesson into a hilarious situation again, I just could not believe what I was doing. If my mother was watching, she would yell at me like crazy to come down, probably pulling me downwards as well. But I dared to do it and had fun, and I’m proud of it!
The video from the second part of my session: