To my excitement, I received an e-mail earlier this week from the Uni’s equestrian society that I had been secured a place in the Engage session, which is organized now and then at Trent Valley Equestrian Centre. Our society is HUGE this year and, after struggling to secure a place in one of the lessons, I could not believe my luck!
The much expected day arrived and, yes, the weather was perfect for riding! The sun was shining, there was zero wind and I couldn’t stop looking at the English nature through the minibus window. My father says that Crete is the best place in the world, the most beautiful etc. But, having lived in two countries and visited many more, I believe that all places are beautiful; all that it takes to realize this is an open mind and the intention to meet other cultures and appreciate their people. And, of course, a tendency in trying new things! I love the seaside and the olive tree fields. But I also love Trent river and the boats floating in its canals.
About 40 minutes later we arrived and sorted ourselves out. When I opened my bag, I realized the value of being proactive; my riding gloves were disgustingly dirty; probably I had forgotten to wash them! And then, my schooling whip, always sticking out of everything! While the newbies were filling in their registration forms, I took the chance to donate 1 pound to buy the promotional wristband of the charity of the centre, named Help for Horses.
In time, each of us had to choose a horse from the list. I chose Ben, a sweet oldie with whom I gave an equitation exam last year. So there we go, we had to tack up the horses and get in the saddle. When I went to sort out Ben, I found him tacked, eating his dinner. I decided to let him eat and go find the other girls who were sorting out their own horses in a nearby stable. By the time we returned, Ben had not finished, and was unhappy to realize that his meal would be interrupted.
The riding session would include gymkhanas. I hadn’t taken part in a gymkhana before, and soon I realized that Ben was not the horse I should have chosen. It was a fun session, but, even with whipping, Ben refused to go any faster than a vivid walk. It was frustrating, but I like him too much to be mad at him, bless him! My riding wasn’t better either that day!
Next, we had to dismount and put the horses back. Ben was first, as his stall was close to the arena. And then, it happened again; looking forward to finishing his meal, Ben stepped on me! Unlike Woody, Ben managed to step on all my toes, plus he’s heavier and slow-moving! So slow, I thought my distraught would never end until he finally lifted his hoof from the ground! But thanks to the thick straw bedding, at least I wasn’t injured and I forgot about it in about 15 minutes.
After putting the horses back to their stalls, we had some stable-management training. We were asked to name the brushes (with the foreigner-me- taking notes and pictures on OneNote) try to tie the horse we were being trained on and then groom him. Have you ever seen 8 ladies grooming the same horse, simultaneously?
After stable management, we went back to the office to prepare for our return. With a few minutes left, I was granted permission to wander around and take some photos. One of the horses posed like a pro and also looked at the picture I had taken! Soon I found Smartie. I was not happy when I was told that Smartie was not on the list of the horses we could ride, because he had been used for a lesson earlier. I couldn’t resist patting him and playing with his smart-looking face! Here are the pics!
PS. Have I told you that I haven’t seen any other equestrian centre with so many carrots; carrots, here, carrots there, stored carrots, dropped carrots, eaten carrots, carried carrots…