Ruby's recent posts have had me thinking a lot about my horseback riding days. Today, I found out that one of my favourite horses from my riding school--Queenie--has ridden on to the great pasture in the sky. She was quite old, 30-something, but the news still made me sad.
Queenie was an average-size horse, all chestnut brown. She was the most uncomfortable horse I have ever ridden, but she was also lovely as far as temperament. Most of the time, I felt like all I had to do was think about what I wanted her to do next and she did it perfectly.
I miss riding, but unfortunately it is an extremely expensive hobby. I started riding at age 2 with Anorexic Auntie, and started lessons at age 3. Once upon a time, I had wild aspirations of riding for Ireland in the Olympics (I really wanted the green riding jacket), but that died away as I headed into my teens and got bored of riding round in circles jumping over sticks. I really wanted to ride into battle, or failing that, learn how to joust.
Horses are the most likely reason for the vertigo, according to my old doctor. Riding that much for that many years, you lose count of how many times you fall off or get thrown off. I had one horse (ironically, named Mephistopheles) who threw me into a triple bar and then five minutes later hurled me off his back with such force that I was knocked out cold upon landing. This is the reason we make sure to wear the funny-looking helmets. This is also the reason Mumsy would not stay and watch my lessons.
By the end of high school I had given up lessons and instead rode for free, exercising the privately-owned horses whose owners didn't have time to ride every day. The retired racehorses were the best. They were completely mental and wouldn't listen to any commands at all, but boy could they move.
We used to have two retired racehorses at my late stepfather's farm. "Un-rideable," I was told. (Guess who frequently got in trouble for riding them?)
I have a soft spot for wild/insane horses. Perhaps because I understand their frustration.
Locked in a cage and left with a mind that remembers a time when they would have run free in open wilderness--a thing they never actually experienced and never will.
So here's to Queenie, who finally gets to run free.