“What if everyone at the new barn is a stuck up know-it-all? What if they think you’re a stuck up know-it-all? What if you forgot how to ride and you get dumped in the sand, or laughed at by children, or dumped in the sand AND laughed at by children?”
September has arrived, fall is in the air, and the kids are back in school. You’re not, because you’ve got enough sense to have graduated and gotten all that schooling nonsense over with years ago…
Except, you don’t. After the temporary hiatus you took from horses to get settled in your new city when you moved last year turned into nineteen months without a riding lesson, your desire to pay someone to yell at you to keep your shoulders back and your heels down can no longer be repressed. And as you pull up the drive to your new barn for your very first lesson, you feel that distantly familiar pit of anxiety start to form in your stomach, and suddenly it’s the first day of school all over again.
Here are just a few of the ways that starting to ride with a new barn as a grown-up is exactly like your worst first-day-of-school memories:
1. Adjusting to a brand-new schedule
Late riser? That’s too bad. Your new trainer has one group lesson at your level that’s not during work hours, and it’s at 6am. The early shift staff at Starbucks are about to become very familiar with you.
2. First-day jitters
Will you make barn friends? What if everyone at the new barn is a stuck up know-it-all? What if they think you’re a stuck up know-it-all because of your terminal resting b-face? What if your breeches rip? What if you forgot how to ride in the year-plus since you’ve last had a lesson and you get dumped in the sand, or laughed at by children, or dumped in the sand AND laughed at by children?
3. New classroom, new rules
Sure, good horsemanship is good horsemanship, but every barn still seems to have its own slightly unique set of rules and unspoken guidelines. In the absence of a detailed syllabus, you’re now the nerd who harassed the poor soul who just offered to show you where your lesson horse lives with twenty questions about crosstie usage and tack cleaning and whether a 6:00 lesson time means I should be getting on at 6:00 or warmed up by 6:00 and you say this horse goes in spurs sometimes so should I wear them or wait to be told to and and and. I promise I’m fun at parties.
4. “Class, we have a new student! I’d like to introduce…”
Nothing makes an introvert’s heart drop more than going through the getting-to-know-the-new-girl dance with a whole new set of people. I’m gonna be occupied enough keeping my feet in the stirrups and my eyes off the ground – could we save the icebreakers until I remember how to post and talk at the same time again?
5. Saying yes to the dress
Is this a t-shirt and comfy schooling breeches sort of place, or a polished tall boots and Tailored Sportsman situation? There’s nothing like showing up wildly over (or under) dressed to make a great first impression.
6. It gets better
You know what’s easier than the first day of school? The second day. And the third. Your muscles may take longer than they used to back when you were a rubberized child to remember the shapes they’re supposed to be in to keep you balanced astride a thousand-pound animal, but you can take comfort in knowing that your trainer will start to learn what makes you tick (hint: it’s raising the jump height when your back is turned because you can’t chicken out if you’re already cantering down the line), and that you’ll find a new barn friend or two to lesson with who has less ambition to jump all the things and a healthier fear of bodily harm than you did as reckless teenagers, and next week you’ll
definitely probably hopefully be less sore than you are right now.
But at the heart of it all, buried deep underneath your first-day anxiety, you’re just a crazy horse girl, all grown up, who can’t wait to smell like hay and leather and poop again.