The Journey

A Diary of my Pursuit of Life\’s Best

Get Riding!

“I am Kane. I will help you.”
“By the power of Greyskull, I am Shera!”

These are two of the phrases I looked forward to week after week and discussed religiously in school, after the programme was aired. Kung Fu – the story of a Buddhist monk and his apprentice, who fought evil and triumphed over it with ease, and Shera – the cartoon story of a woman who also fought evil and triumphed over it.

And then there was “Lone Ranger … Away!” The cartoon character who rode a horse and rode alone in open country. He fought evil too! I remember how his horse always reared before it galloped off to their new assignment, how his lasso looped in his targets and how he made this task seem so easy! They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery … so I tried to flatter him but fell flat on my face in my attempts. The rope never became a lasso and my right arm hurt for days on end after my attempts. But, the Lone Ranger ignited my fascination with horses and every romantic novel that painted Romeo as a knight astride a horse fuelled this fascination.

In 1999 I rode a horse for the first time and promised myself that I would own one in the future. But it was not until 2007 that I began to translate my intentions into actions. The first step to owning a horse is, of course, to learn how to ride. So I began taking classes. Learning to ride begins with a walk. After a while, you graduate into trotting, and then cantering, and finally, you can gallop! There are lessons to be learnt at each stage – how to saddle and unsaddle your horse, how to mount and dismount, how to hold the reins and how to kick your horse so that he can move faster.

There are also subtle lessons – like how to pat your horse so as to encourage him, and how to groom and feed him when your lesson is over. Finally, there are lessons to look forward to in the future – like looping lassos and show jumping. It goes without saying that there are some lessons that one has to learn for lack of choice. These include how to laugh the day after your lesson without feeling as if you want to cry and how to mount the horse when you know that dismounting invites the misery of aching muscles and a funny gait.

These lessons aside, my riding experience has also taught me lessons in life. Firstly, unless you own it, don’t always ride the same horse. You’ll get used to it and riding a new horse will become difficult. This principle can be applied in any facet of your life – your job, the house you live in and what you do for leisure are good starting points.

Secondly, if you own the horse, you must nurture it; otherwise it will grow weak and die. Nurture your relationships with those you love and take time to develop these relationships. Learn new things about your job and discover how you can improve the quality of your work, and do not leave your talents to wither and die.

Thirdly, you must learn to test your limits. It’s not enough to master the trot and keep trotting for the rest of your life. You must take the risk of cantering and galloping, and celebrate your mastery of one of the world’s most noble sports. Being comfortable with your current situation is never enough. The reward often lies in going beyond your comfort zone.

And if you just want to ride without thinking of the lessons in the riding, you must look forward to the thrill of being seated 6 feet above ground level, at the mercy of your hands and feet. You will be excited by the adrenaline rush that comes when your horse begins to move, slowly at first, and then faster and faster. When the wind begins to blow in your face and your hair, you will marvel at the speed and grace with which you and your horse move, in harmony, with all your troubles taking a back seat so you can savour the moment. Your heart will race as you let your hands and feet guide you and your horse through rough and smooth terrain, through canters and gallops, and eventually, back to the stables where you will dismount and begin to dream about your next such experience.

You will talk about it with your friends and you will suffer from it with your muscles. But every moment of muscle agony is worth enduring for the measured moments on horseback. So next time you’re wondering what to do with your Saturday morning, try some excitement and Get Riding!

February 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment