Back in the Saddle
Most people have a childhood passion that they gave up somewhere along the way. I have friends who were figure skaters. Some rowed crew in high school and college. Gymnasts, dancers, singers, musicians you name it. For me it was horses.
From the time I was very small ( 4? 5?) I was a rider. I quickly went from a few lessons here and there to riding six times a week and traveling all over the east coast ( and missing school!) for horse shows. I met my lifelong BFF riding. I spent more time with my trainer than I did with my family. It was all I knew and all I did for a very, very long time.
When I was about 15 or 16 years old I began to get more interested in musical theater than horses. I missed lessons and shows because I was in the school play. Eventually I went to a boarding school where I could really dive deep into my passion for performing and the horses fell by the wayside. Once I quit riding I never looked back. I wouldn’t even get on a horse for fun. It brought up too many memories. I just couldn’t figure out how to do it casually.
Cut to 20 years later. Hermione has been taking riding lessons in the summers and loving it. I am very careful to keep it casual for her. For one thing we can’t afford to buy her fancy show ponies right now. Also we live in NYC and I am not prepared to drive her outside of the city multiple days after school to ride. Hermione also loves dancing and performing and I want to make sure she has time to explore that passion as well. Lessons in the summer are the perfect compromise. She gets to spend time around horses and learn how to ride without it being her entire world. She still goes to camp, plays tennis, swims etc.
This is Hermione’s third summer riding and it wasn’t until now that I had any desire to get back on a horse myself. I just wasn’t ready. And then, suddenly one day in early July I felt that itch. It was starting to be hard for me to be around horses and not get on one. It was time..
I asked her trainer if she had a horse I could lease for the summer and lucky for me she did! I have now been riding the most wonderful boy three times a week all summer and it has been so therapeutic for me. When I first got on in July I was super creaky and things that used to come naturally felt really hard. How did I used to do this so well? How did I jump these animals over 3’6” fences??? Those first few days I was incredibly sore and just felt awkward. Slowly, slowly I have gotten my confidence back. It’s incredible the muscle memory I have after so very long. Last week I even did some little jumps and it felt so good. Suddenly I was 15 again having a great time riding my horse. Minus all the competitive pressure.
The best part about getting back to riding? Sharing it with Hermione. It is wonderful to have a passion to share with my daughter. We have been taking lessons at the same time and being in the ring with her is so special. I look at her and see myself at 6 years old. When we are done riding, all sweaty and dusty she likes to hang around a bit before we head home. She has to make sure to give the horses (and dogs) treats. She just loves being in a barn. Just like I did when I was a girl. I hope this is a love we can share for many years to come. Who knows, when she is a bit taller maybe I will buy us a horse to share! That is my latest fantasy. For now I am throughly enjoying our summer days at the barn together and the pleasure of being back in the saddle.