My diary of horse riding...

In these pages I'll attempt to keep a diary of my experiences as I (try) to learn to ride at a standard that's vaguely acceptable to the equine community in general and, more importantly to the poor horses that might at some time or other be unfortunate enough to have me on their back....

I've decided to set an arbitary start date for this diary, and that is with effect from Sunday, 25 January 2009. I have, though, been learning to ride at Calico Livery Stables since March 2008, so as I get the chance, I'll add "edited highlights" (and a few "lowlights" too..) from the previous months.

Anyway, here goes. Any comments, advice, opinion, support is gratefully received and you're welcome to email me with them!


25 Jan. 2009

Went out for a hack on Harriet with J., K and A. (No, don't be silly - we weren't all on Harriet, they were on other horses...)

Harriet's been so well behaved in general and has really looked after me as I start out on my riding adventures. Today, though, I think she decided it was time I sat an exam or two!

We'd been out for 10 or 15 minutes and I was third in a line of 4 when we began to trot on a stretch of road. I really didn't think it would be a good idea for Harriet and me to join K. on Crunchie's back, so I tried to slow her trot a little. she wants to trot a bit faster than I want her to though, so starts nodding her head fairly vigorously and prancing about a bit. I felt some odd motions and A., who was behind me, said "oooh, Harriet's just done a big buck". Ah, so that's what it was! Wow, I've survived a buck, but I've now hit the panic button and shouted up to J. who was in the lead that I was having problems, so we walk for a while again which I really shouldn't have done. Harriet still fancies doing her own thing and carries on being a bit difficult with lots of head-nodding and resisting. Further on, we're off-road & on a track through the fields. There's a gateway ahead with some obstacles across to prevent motorcycles passing through. Harriet's been through countless times before. Today, J. goes through, K. goes through, my turn comes & harriet does a superb imitation of a statue. She couldn't have stood more still if she'd been made of solid bronze! A., who was behind me, takes her horse through too. "Kick her on" they shout from the distance. Ok, so Allan gives her a little kick and nothing happens. "Harder!" they shout, so Allan kicks a bit harder. this goes on for a while - you get the picture. Nothing's happening though, except I have visions of me eventually kicking so hard, really hurting her & she takes off like the Space Shuttle. Finally, I have an idea. "Shall I take her back a bit & then try to come through?" So I ask her to turn and she does. Yippee!! We walk a few yards back, then turn again and head for the gate. They're frantically shouting at me not to let her slow or stop. If I could have actually done that, she'd never have stopped in the first place, stopping certainly wasn't my idea! Anyway, she does go through much to my delight. Which was short-lived 'cos we get through the gate & she promptly parks herself again. Oh no!! Repeat performance described above. J. eventually rides back to me & tries a slap on Harriet's behind which is ignored. She gets hold of Harriet's reins and tries to pull her on a little, but Harriet makes it clear she really doesn't like that idea and will react accordingly. She must have realised though she was pushing her luck - or she felt really sorry for me - because after another 19 June, 2012 ther, and a couple more....

So we're on the move again, although it feels to me as if she's walking on tip-toes and I keep wondering what's going to happen next - and more importantly, whether or not I'll like it!! To be honest, I'm now close to asking to cut the ride short and head for home by the shortest route, but I don't. I'm not sure why exactly, because at the precise moment, learing to ride is certainly not fun for me & I'm also conscious that I'm holding the others back.

We carry on and gradually Harriet settles just a little. I'm glad I didn't ask to turn back and feel a little proud of myself. She's still a handful for me though & I'm sure she's pretty unhappy because in spite of fairly cool weather at about 5/6 degrees C., she's sweating quite a bit. We try trotting again & she does it and is controllable although the head-nodding continues. I'm not sure why exactly, but I do find that very distracting. Eventually we arrive back at the stables without any more incidents. So, let's do a quick analysis of today's experience...


  1. I survived my first buck and stayed on
  2. I didn't get off and walk (seriously!)
  3. I've learned that I need to expect things to happen - horses are not machines and have a mind of their own.
  4. I need to learn how to manage things that happen and make sure the result is what I want and not what the horse wants.
  5. I did eventually manage a certain degree of control, although it was far from perfect.
  6. I'll do better (hopefully) the next time this sort of thing happens. Because happen again it will!


  1. For at least a part of the hour and a half we were out, it was not an enjoyable experience. Having said that, experience is probably the important word here and I certainly did gain some and learned from it. Learning is important but isn't always easy, comfortable or enjoyable. So on the whole, I guess this shouldn't be a "not-so-positive" after all...!
  2. I held back the others.
  3. I was rather intimidated by Harriet's behaviour. I'm aware this is not a good thing and must try harder not to be intimidated.

All in all, and looking back a day or two later, I guess I can see the session as a valuable learning experience, difficult though it was at the time. So, Harriet, if today was a test you set me, I think I more or less passed. Yes, I know the comment at the bottom of the report reads "could do better" and I will, I will......


01 Feb.2009

Before going out this week, we loose-schooled both horses. I rode out on Harriet, J. on Crunchie.

A very pleasant ride which was quite uneventful. Harriet behaved very well, although after we've been out for a relatively short time, she begins nodding her head. This is something that happens each time I ride her. Not a problem in itself, but for a complete beginner like myself, it's a bit distracting & I do worry that I'm doing something wrong....

We did a lot of roadwork, which was very good. It really helps me develop communication with the horse when we're continually starting and stopping, turning corners and both walking and trotting and I'm developing confidence on the roads too. (I've been driving a car for more years than I care to remember, but it's an entirely new experience using the roads on a different form of transport....!)

We did a bit off-road too and this is where we did a fair bit of trotting and also tried cantering a couple of times. Although I was happy to canter, I was also aware that I wasn't sitting in the saddle completely either - sort of hovering a little bit - some of the time at least. On the other hand I guess I am at least getting used to the different motion and the slightly faster speed. I know what to do - I just need to relax and have a bit more faith in my ability to actually do it!!

A very useful hour or two today that was enjoyable at the same time.






Some dog related websites....

Other websites of interest...