I have died and gone to heaven
Today Anthony took his very first horseback riding lesson at Idylwood Stables in Manor, TX. After the Lipizzaner show last weekend we got to talking and he said he'd be willing to take lessons (we have a long standing stand-still between us regarding shared interests: I hate motorcycles and I don't ride horses anymore, despite my passion for them; so what could we possibly do together that we both love??). As soon as I got home that night I pulled up all my bookmarks for local riding barns. I mapped them, researched them and if they weren't too expensive or far away I decided to call them later in the week to check them out further.
Idylwood was the first barn I called and Sydney, the owner, bowled me over with her gregarious nature and positive attitude towards teaching a really green adult how to ride. Saturday at 2 pm was The Day Anthony Would Fall in Love with Horses (according me) or The Day Anthony Would Placate Jess (according to him).
Turns out the man is a freaking natural. Sydney had Anthony ride Sterling, a recent acquisition from a polo rider who discovered his horse wasn't much of a polo pony with a stellar disposition. Anthony groomed him with some hesitation and confusion, but survived. I was so proud of him. Next, he watched intently as Sydney explained all the tack and how it was put on the horse properly. Finally, the fun part of the lesson was at hand. She led Anthony and Sterling into a the outdoor arena to a mounting block, and up he went!
Hollis was running around pointing at all the water hoses and handing everyone straw he found laying on the ground. He so didn't get this momentus moment.
Most brand new riding students start out on the lunge line and Anthony was no different. He was put through the motions of discovering his sense of balance on a giant moving animal: hands on head, hands behind back, hands out to side. He was terrific. She then had him stand in his stirrups in two-point position. Without even trying his form was good, if shakey, and so then they started the trot with posting.
Posting, for those of you non-horsey types, is when the rider stands up off the saddle in rythym to the trot. It looks like this: up, down, up, down, up, down, and so on. At first it's exhausting, but once you develop those muscles it's far preferable to sitting in the trot (the horse's bounciest gait). And wouldn't you know it, Anthony nailed it! It usually takes people weeks to learn the rythym and Anthony got it on his first try.
Sydney yelled to me, "This isn't his first time on a horse!" We assured her it was (outside of a couple of western trail rides).
He did so well on the lunge line Sydney decided to take Sterling off. Anthony was now in control of Sterling all on his own. Without sounding condescending, Anthony was adorable atop his flea-bitten steed trying to persuade him to not walk into jump standards, but to instead go in a circle. A few wonderous minutes later, the lesson was over and Sydney called out to me to find a helmet small enough for Hollis. He was going to get a pony ride with Daddy.
"A pony ride with Daddy," she had said. I'm pretty sure I'd heard her correctly.
I practically ran to the tack room for the helmet.
I plopped a cracked and dusty helmet on Hollis and took him to Sterling. My heart freaking burst wide open at the site of Hollis sitting on Sterling's withers in front of Anthony. Sydney led all of us down to their polo field, along a wooded stream and back up to the cross-ties. At first Hollis wasn't too sure of this horse thing (in the first five minutes of arriving at the barn a friendly horse licked him and he didn't like that too much), but eventually he began to relax his arms down to his side.
I cannot describe what I was feeling. I didn't take a lesson because I don't even want to get started only to have to stop when I get pregnant again. But to see Anthony and Hollis with a horse was sheer bliss. I could see years of a happy horse family in my future, hours spent together riding and at shows, talking horses, breathing horses. Neither Anthony or I want to split our family due to different interests. We want to avoid the whole: Daddy and kid and motorcycles all weekend and Mommy and kid and horses all weekend and the kids never getting to see and support each other and Anthony and I not being to together, either.
Maybe I'm looking too far into this, I don't know, but the possibilities are really exciting. Anthony told me (gently) that horses probably wouldn't replace motorcycles (my pipe dream), but that he'd be amenable to riding horses as a family. Woo-fucking-hoo!!!!!!
I can hope that some day this photo will be of me and my family.