Byron LaFleur, a new rider about to marry the certifiably horse crazy Carla Lake, has been spending this summer perfecting his posting trot and steering. But he’s learned a lot more than that…
Top image: Byron’s first trail ride down the driveway. Aww!]
My agreement with my fiance Byron was four lessons just to see if he liked it. Now he’s riding every weekend in his breeches, tall boots, and an Uvex helmet that looks like a giant bug landed on his head. I may have created a monster.
He has decided to share some tips to help out other significant others in his situation. Take it away, Byron!
1.) Don’t be intimidated at first. There are going to be a lot of riders who are much better than you. Even after you have been riding for years, you’ll still be surrounded by people that are much better than you. But it’s important to remember that the reason these riders are so much better than you is only 50% skill. A major component of their riding prowess is the amount of head trauma they have received . This has dulled their ability to recognize that they are forcing an animal that outweighs them by a factor of 10 to run as fast it can through obstacles designed to throw the rider off head first.
2.) New rider, meet ground; ground, meet face. I assume you all know the iconic Jaws theme song. The minute you hear the two note song (ba-dum…ba-dum…), you understand that the person on the screen is about to become a shark snack. Well bad news friend, the minute you got on a horse and decided that you would continue riding, the Jaws theme song started playing for you. It’s just a matter of when.
3.) Your average horse has the intelligence of a three year old child (if that). Three year old children are evil. Most parents know this. The reason for it is that three years isn’t long enough to develop a moral compass, but it is long enough to learn how to manipulate. They’ll throw tantrums, they’ll embarrass you, they’ll flat out torture you. Why am I telling you this? Well your average horse has the intelligence of a three year old… that never grows up. They’ll constantly test you, see how you react and then if you make a mistake, they’ll continue to make you pay for it. Congratulations, you have just put your life on the back of a thousand-pound three-year-old.
4.) Ignore any and all compliments. When you first start riding (and I mean the first and second ride), you are going to get compliments. At least this was the experience for me. I was told that my heel placement was perfect, I looked comfortable riding, my posting was good. Try to ignore any and all compliments, because it’s just how these horse people sucker you in. Any successes you have in your first few lessons are beginners’ luck, and once you start focusing on it, that is when everyone around you will realize how bad you are. It’s a long road in front of you.
5.) There is no such thing as an investment pony. You may be inclined to go buy a horse after you really start getting into riding. DON’T. DO. IT. A horse is a machine that turns money into manure. I have created an appropriate test to see if you are ready to purchase a horse:
a. State this out loud: “There is no such thing as an investment pony.”
b. Now place your hand over that sentence, and let your mind wander for 5 minutes. It would be best if you stared off in the distance.
c. After 5 minutes, what were you thinking about? If it was horse related at all, then you’ve passed the first part of the test.
d. What was step A? If you cannot remember or stated “There IS such a thing as an investment pony,” then congratulations, you have had enough concussions to warrant purchasing a horse. Congratulations on your new money pit.