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Horsing Around

 

During 2014, my husband and I went for riding lessons in the suburb of Box Hill, some 42 kilometres (approx. 26 miles) north-west of Sydney in the Hills District region. Once a month, we would pack up our riding gear into the boot of our SUV and make the 2-hour drive from home to the rural outskirts of Sydney.

Our riding instructor, Sandy was a trim, agile woman in her late sixties. She still competed in the local gymkhanas and was sometimes called upon to be a competition judge herself. One of my work colleagues, who was learning the finer points of dressage from her, had directed us her way. Lessons with Sandy included the benefit of her dry wit, keen eye for detail, patience and a no-nonsense approach to horses. "Be firm, but kind", that was her motto.

Sandy was well-respected in the local equestrian community and stabled several horses for other owners on her property. They would let her use their horses for the occasional lesson as it kept their horses exercised and accustomed to being ridden. We learnt the correct way to approach a horse that was several times our size without startling it, adjust the length of the stirrups, the proper way to put a bridle onto a horse and to check if the girth is secure on the saddle. On windy days, when the horses were a bit skittish at every fluttering leaf, we practiced tying knots to secure a horse to the railing, how to get a horse to raise its hoof so we could check for stones and use a currycomb to groom a horse (the horses loved this part).

We loved our monthly hour-long sessions. Shoulders down, back straight, eyes front, heels down, toes pointed straight-and-forward in the stirrups. Sandy would laugh at how I found it easier to keep my seat without stirrups. She made us do that at the start of each lesson to ensure that we focused on our balance. I usually rode Jessie, a pretty red chestnut mare about fifteen hands high. She was easy to mount with the help of a tree stump. But I found her trotting rather choppy and it took a few tries before I could get into sync with her gait. I just wasn't very good at trotting.

Ellie was my husband's regular mount and she was a sweet-natured Aussie draught (draft) horse. I think she had some Clydesdale (like the Budweiser ad) or Shire, crossbred with a bit of Thoroughbred thrown in. She was a big beautiful girl, with a dark glossy bay coat, about 19 hands and taller than his 6' 2" build.

One day, while Jessie was away with her owner, my husband and I had to share Ellie for the day. After dainty little Jessie, Ellie was HUGE to me. As I'm only 5'1", she towered high above me. I needed to climb up the 2 steps on a proper mounting block just to get into the saddle.

It was strange at first sitting astride Ellie; I felt very, very far from the ground. Her back was much broader than I was used to and my legs didn't quite wrap around her sides. Still, Sandy insisted I had to do my usual circuit around the paddock, hands on head, feet out of stirrups. Sandy held the lunge rope to lead the horse around - it was safe enough.

After a while, I felt really comfortable on Ellie and began to enjoy myself. Her stride was long, flowing and smooth. It was like sitting in an armchair, while being moved around. I closed my eyes and let myself settle into an easy rhythm, moving with the swaying gait of the horse.

Sandy was quite pleased with my progress that day. She said that my seat had improved and my back was nice and straight. I preened a little at that. Our riding instructor doled out praise with a sparing hand. If she was happy - that was rare and good.

When my lesson ended for the day, Sandy asked my husband to stand next to Ellie and help me dismount. It is the usual practice to dismount from the left. But for some reason, he stationed himself on the right side of the horse. I hadn't heard what Sandy said, so I didn't realise that he was meant to be there for me.

Before either of them could stop me, I swung my right leg over Ellie's rump, took my left foot out from the stirrup iron and promptly released my hold from the pommel of the saddle -

It was a long, loong, looong way down.

A strange calm settled over me and I heard a quiet voice in my head reminding me to stay calm and relax. I breathed in deeply, exhaled again slowly and a curious melting sensation went over my limbs. It was as if my body suddenly went "boneless".

Remember the expression: "Time seemed to stand still"? Those seconds felt as if they stretched like a rubber band into several minutes. It seemed to take a fair while to touch the ground.

At length, I landed on the hard-packed sand of the riding paddock. My right shoulder took the main impact of my bone-jarring fall.

Two pairs of dark hairy hooves as large as saucers appeared right in front of my startled eyes. I distinctly heard the urgent command: "MOVE!"

Without thinking twice about it, I tucked my arms and legs into a ball and immediately rolled away. A moment later, those great iron-shod hooves stamped restlessly with a resounding thud-THUMP.

My husband and Sandy frantically rushed up. Sandy quickly secured Ellie while I took my husband's offered hand. I got to my wobbly feet and gingerly checked that all my parts were still in one piece. A fall like that, when a person's on the wrong side of 50 years, was not to be taken lightly.

My right shoulder ached. I carefully rotated the joint. To my relief, there seemed to be no problem with movement. Sandy and my husband were fully expecting that I would have suffered a sprained or fractured limb.

'It's a miracle,' they both declared to me.

As I rubbed my sore shoulder, I ruefully thought of the proverb warning us that pride and a haughty spirit go before a fall. But still, I was fortunate that a caring spirit had been watching out for me.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Jubeele, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Rex-T (3 stories) (116 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-03)
Melda,

Thanks to Google, I see what you mean!

Well, I learnt something new today. Rock on SA Folk dancing.

This is the second time I've read of a link between SA and Sweden.

There's history here.

Enlightened Rex-T
Melda (9 stories) (842 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-03)
Rex-T - I really don't want to confuse you but country and western in SA, when we're talking Volkspele, is a whole different can of beans 😁

Regards, Melda
Rex-T (3 stories) (116 posts)
+1
2 months ago (2018-01-03)
Melda,

You and Fergie (2 sweet young lasses) doing SA Country & Western has me intrigued.

The closest I got to Country & Western was the Eagles and Joe Walsh.

Help Manafon, once again, out of my league with Melda and Volkspele?

Also, don"t let Jubeele catch you doing anything shady in the smoking department as the party will get verrry wild.

Rex-T
Melda (9 stories) (842 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-03)
Manafon and Rex-T - This is the first time I have ever heard of Durban poison. Oh my, what a sweet, sheltered, innocent soul I must be 😁

I reckon I'll stick to the bad habits which I have become accustomed to and forget the rest. Way to go for me!

Regards, Melda
Melda (9 stories) (842 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-03)
Fergie - I missed your comment! You understand when I say that we sat without electricity for over 24 hours, I'm sure. It's becoming a regular occurrence now. We're just below Menlyn and the amount of building happening around that area is taxing the electricity grid.

Do you know what? If I'd seen you sitting in the shade I'd have pulled you off your feet to do Volkspele for the lot of them. I'm hoping that you could have sung while we went through the Volkspele motions because if I'd had to sing, I'd have been expelled from the property. I doubt whether even Manafon could have come up with our SA brand of "country music" 😁

Will chat to you soon.

Regards, Melda
Rex-T (3 stories) (116 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-03)
So good to know that you're still running hot with the guacamole.

Wow. We don't need those chili grenades, we just need a couple of Mexican Mums with their ghost chili's to sort out the bad dudes.

Jubeele has plenty of Boo-milla milkshakes and Roy's mixed his Coconut-Colas. We also got your soda water.
lady-glow (9 stories) (1743 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-03)
Rex-T: I'm still here, haven't said anything because it's not polite to talk with a full mouth. 😜

Tabasco sauce?... Mexican mothers feed their children baby bottles filled with Tabasco sauce, now I use it instead of eye drops.πŸ˜‚

I love this party! ❀
Jubeele (9 stories) (492 posts)
+1
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Mmm, gooey homemade chocolate chip cookies. RC, you should be on Masterchef! 😘
RCRuskin (8 stories) (301 posts)
+1
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Rex, thanks for the lift. Though, to be honest, I usually need impatient transport...

Joking aside, I love ribs, even put a rack of ribs in my Easter basket last year, and pretty sure I'll do the same this year.

The chocolate chip cookies are done. Get 'em while they're gooey hot!
Jubeele (9 stories) (492 posts)
+1
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
RC, you've a treasure! Please take charge of the BBQ pit where the ribs, pork roast, brisket, smoked fish etc are warming up. We're dining alfresco under the summer sky. The citronella lamps are busy keeping away the mozzies. There's a supply tent set up nearby where you can source for whatever else you need. If you can't reach anything, just get Big T to lend you a helping claw.

I've got an Aussie damper (soda bread) baking on the coals in the camp oven by the side of the pit. Can you also please keep an eye on it?
Rex-T (3 stories) (116 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Emma,

Come on over and bring Emmaline as Big T-Rex needs some playmates. We've been trying to get Gh0stHunter and Roy to help out but you can be bartender anytime you like.

RCRuskin,

Sounds like you will need "Patient Transport', so I'll get Big T-Rex to come and get you (although being a dinosaur he doesn't like the cold).

I've got to go offline for a while, go ahead and party (its only day 2) and I'll be back in a few hours.

Rex-T
RCRuskin (8 stories) (301 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
I've sprained both ankles and both knees, and let's not get started with my left foot. I'm sure it is plotting my demise by now. I'll just sit over here, enjoy the music and company.

Although, I love cooking and baking. Where's the kitchen?
Jubeele (9 stories) (492 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Hello Em! About time you showed up. We've been waiting for you. The bar's all yours. Let Emmaline loose to play - she can run around with Big T-Rex.

Thanks for the bourbon. I'll have some on the rocks to go with that brisket. It looks and smells amazing. You must also try some of this gorgeous pork roast with peaches and spices from MrRiggs. He also brought Mint Juleps to go with it. 😘
Jubeele (9 stories) (492 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Never too late for fun, RC. Pick a spot and pull up a chair. You want to tend bar with Emma or warm up with the Music Man, Mr Manafon (aka Twister)? πŸ˜‰
EmmalineTexas (10 stories) (161 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
I forgot to add Tea with Jubeele sounds marvelous. I'll bartend though! I do make a mean virgin espresso martini. Or um... Full tilt boogie if you're inclined. ❀
EmmalineTexas (10 stories) (161 posts)
+1
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
I'm late to the party, as usual. I bring you brisket and this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYd1x5m5Bj0. Oh and a really good Kentucky Bourbon. Cheers!
Rex-T (3 stories) (116 posts)
+1
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Party Guests,

What can I say without saying too much?

Fergie and Manafon are on the right track.

The story I was told as follows -

In the 60s and 70s, the SA authorities started spraying noxious plants (hemp) with poison. The plant did not die around Durban but it did change and not for the better.

When I read of posters having psychotic episodes I do wonder if it is the real deal or just an expression. Paranoia is more than an expression.

Good news for me was that I realised I was not Superman.

Anyway, sorry Rook for pinching your soapbox, the Miller's told his tale, 'Turn a Whiter Shade of Pale',

Wow we must be mellow, sitting around the camp fire telling our stories.

Rex-T
Manafon1 (5 stories) (547 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Melda - I am sure Rex-T will respond but Durban Poison is a very potent marijuana that originates in Durban, South Africa. Rex-T must have had a bad experience with the stuff. What's the story Rex?
RCRuskin (8 stories) (301 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Jubeele mentioned something about a party. Hope I'm not too late. 😁
Fergie (38 stories) (1133 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Hey Melda, cooee, over here in the shade - come sit with me and have a koeksister. Let the men talk about their dagga.

I am just chilling out, watching the dancing and listening to all the 'skelm streke' (naughty antics) coming out. πŸ˜‰

By the way, your snoek tart was delicious. 😘
Melda (9 stories) (842 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Rex-T - As a Safrican I would love to know what the Durban poison is? Knowing how dreadful sections of Durban have become since I last visited, I am particularly curious. (I am of course assuming you're speaking of Durban South Africa.)

Please, oh please, don't tell me it has anything to do with cricket? 😭

Regards, Melda
Jubeele (9 stories) (492 posts)
+1
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Welcome Mrs Manafon, do make yourself comfortable next to the DJ booth. I'm using my best Qing dynasty teaset just for you. You must also try some of Fergie's honeyed pastries from South Africa.

Mr Manafon, please excuse the scattered CDs. Rex-T was looking for Henry Mancini's Pink Panther theme for Melda. 😁
Rex-T (3 stories) (116 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Hey you guys just beware of the Durban Poison - the most evil stuff on this planet.

Anyway have a mellow time.

Rex-T
Manafon1 (5 stories) (547 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Jubeele - Mrs. Manafon says she would love to have a Ghost white peony tea with you. She's especially up for one as here in Chicago it's presently -8 degrees outside. The Polar Vortex has decended on the Mid-West and it be BRUTAL!
Jubeele (9 stories) (492 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Mr Manafon, I also have Ghost white peony tea if Mrs Manafon would like to try some. It's not as posh as Twinnings, but may I pour you a cup too, Lady Tweed? 😊
Manafon1 (5 stories) (547 posts)
+1
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Yes Tweed, Mr. And Mrs. Manafon would dig some Immortal and while we're at it let's throw in some WAY old school black metal with some Venom. Mrs. M will join you for a Twining's as she's not a drinker and I will partake of that spliff with your hub. I'll bring some "Golden Goat", potent and heady stuff from Colorado where it's legal. It might not be legal in Illinois but Manafon follows his own pathπŸ˜‰
Melda (9 stories) (842 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Tweed - before somebody takes me up the wrong way AGAIN, I think you realise that my previous remark was a joke. I've noticed recently that people interpret things too personally. I know you don't - just clearing it up.

Regards, Melda
Melda (9 stories) (842 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Tweed - Go for it girlie: Menthol smells good but it's bloody boring!

Regards, Melda
Tweed (24 stories) (2080 posts)
+1
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Oi, Mr and Mrs Manafon, fancy some Immortal Sons of Northern Darkness? Goodness knows it's overdue here. *sticks it on anyway*
My man's got a spliff on hand if you're inclined. Too much booze in here for my liking. I'll stick to Twinings and a menthol (posh biatch)

Yeah, I went there.
roylynx (24 stories) (622 posts)
 
2 months ago (2018-01-02)
Jubeele, Ah no... It was long ago and not even my father had evidenced it lol
You know one of those war time legends that almost every grandparent will tell you, it's just that.

Coconut-Cola... Oh, you all shall try it! Drain the coconut and add the famous "red ribbon" coke, not the "blue brand" coke, the "red ribbon"! It's a rule!:-D Oh! Please safe the coconut-water and freeze them. Blend the ice in a mixer and add a few dash of lime or lemon juice and you will have instant delicious Asian Shaved ice for desert;-)

Enjoy the party everyone!

E.Lynx

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