Week 9 of my comfort zone challenge, and this week I decided to take an interest in my sister’s hobby, horse riding. My sister, Sarah, has been riding horses for 21 years, of which she has had her own horse, Bronte, for 10. Being the terrible brother I am, until this week, I think I have only seen Bronte once in those 10 years. I had been living life so in the comfort zone, I’d never taken an interest in my sisters main hobby. So I gave my sister a text, and arranged a riding lesson.
I arrived at Hyfield Stables, in Crowhurst, and as soon as I got out of the car, the fresh farm smell instantly hit me. It’s like a mix of manure and fresh air up your nose. Strangely, the smell really grew on me.
Being 15 minutes early, I sat by the riding school and watched the lesson that was already taking place. There was a girl, no older than 13, just whipping the horse over jumps, making it look easy. I thought to myself, if a 13 year old girl can ride horses, I should be fine.
Sarah arrived, showed me Bronte and then took me to the horse I would be riding, Oliver. She assured me that Oliver was very well behaved and would be no trouble. I was slightly relieved as Oliver was massive.
Sarah set up both the horses with saddle, stirrups and reins and we were ready to go. I actually thought we may start off in the riding school, but Sarah said she would give me a crash course and we’ll head straight out. Sarah’s crash course to her brother was as followed: “Kick to go, pull back to stop, pull one rein to steer.” To be fair, that’s all I needed to know.
Before we left the stables, Oliver decided he wanted a drink. Who am I to argue with him? He’s bigger than me. Rehydrated, we rode into the Crowhurst countryside, fortunately it was a beautiful day. We slowly went through the gears from walk, into a trott, into a canter. The faster we went, the more fun it was.
I quickly realised, horse riding was all about balance. Sarah would always remind me to keep my heels down. This would help with balance and keeping posture as the horse went faster. It was like riding a bike in a way. You had to kick to move (pedal) and steer with the reins. Without kicking, the horse just wouldn’t move.
The ride itself, was a great mix of relaxation with the occasional adrenaline rush to keep yourself entertained. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it. On top of that, it was a great way to catch up with my sister.
By the end of the ride, my legs were aching, but there were no ‘pelvic’ injuries that I was previously warned about before. I came out feeling much better for doing something different with my Sunday. Makes a nice change from the usual hungover corpse that lies on the sofa most Sundays.
A special thanks should go out to both my sister, for taking me out, and Sophie North of Hyfield Stables for kindly letting me ride her horse Oliver. Below is a highlight reel of the ride!