After last weeks first day back, Marbles performance of being in charge along with my frustration of being relegated to utter powerlessness, I decided upon wearing my NOPE socks in an attempt to help counteract Marbles’ demands.

Easy enough?

I’d like to pretend taking back authority was as easy as a pair of socks and if it were true, I can think of all sorts of socks I might own to help out with difficulties. Instead it took a week of mental preparation of reminding myself, “No dead eyes, Power Position,” along with the echoing in my mind, “Long strides, lonnnng, powerful, marching strides, I want to see her moooove! Think of what you want and DEMAND!”

It is safe to say that with my weeklong repetitions coupled with my NOPE socks, I was able to break through, for a brief few minutes.

Around and around we went, on the rails, off the rails, over the rails, this way and that.

By the end I could no longer feel my ankles, my feet were fast asleep and I was exhilarated. I did it! I successfully and quietly asked for what I wanted and Marbles went trotting off with big fast steps, throwing me up and out of the saddle effortlessly, coming back down with each stride only to be pushed back up and out of the saddle again and again.

It is then that I knew I was in charge! And for that, I’ll be back.

First Day Back

After taking a break from learning English riding, I decided to find a new trainer and barn. I have become rather successful at being a passenger on a horse and I’d like to become a rider.

And so that is how I find myself in a new barn and in front of Marbles’ stall.

She is tall, at the back of her stall, standing like a statue, eyeing me up, possibly deciding how she’d like our hour together to turn out.

If I’ve learned anything with horses, it’s to just be, just go about being me while ignoring my ride. I proceed with that in mind, putting my boot and helmet bags on the ground. Unzip my boot bag, take out the left boot, unbuckle, unzip the back, gracefully remove my right foot from my Chelsea boots and try jamming my right foot into my left riding boot.


“That’s not right,” I say out loud to no one and as I stand up, I see my audience, Marbles who now at the front of her stall with her head jammed up against the stall bars, is quietly and curiously looking down at this “idiot passenger struggling with her own two feet!”

“I know how to handle HER,” I imagine Marbles thinking, “I’ll get to do plenty of standing around along with some Sunday morning meanderings while this lady struggles, huffing and puffing to get me to MOVE. This is gonna be FUN!”

And my imaginings are not wrong, Marbles does a fair amount of standing around in the riding ring with me on her back. She also manages to maintain a meandering Sunday morning walk/trot, all the while with me huffing, puffing and out of breath attempting to motivate this thousand pound horse beneath me to MOVE!



I do it because it is the one place on earth that I find I am forced to face so much about myself.

Forced to recon with my constant inside thinking and my love of that constant inside thinking. My lack of clear goals and action. My mindset. My emotional state. My fear of disappointment. My fear of failure. My lack of perfection. My desire to be of value and my utter failure it my attempts.

Being on a school horse who has seen it all and knows how to be in control; a trainer on the ground who has agreed to give me the hard truths; it is a humbling place to be. It somehow feels safe and I am voluntarily there to practise mindset, have eyes that are alive and find my value, whatever that might be.

Jen at the Barn

Walking in the front door, I realized why horseback riders choose, where possible, to have two sets of Washers and Dryers in the house.  It’d been an hour since grooming and putting Scarlet back into her stall, but there she was, still with me after driving 30 miles.  She was there, stuck to my riding boots and pants.  Tuffs of reddish-brown hair.

When I had arrived at the farm for my first lesson, I was overcome with self-doubt.  I’d been on a horse once.  It had been thrilling as a teen, even though the ride had amounted to me being led around and around in circles for a full 10 minutes.  Getting onto the back of a horse and riding it around a track with me holding the reins was going to be new.

“Did I over equip myself?”, “Should I have tried to find gear more reasonably priced?”, “Did I do enough research?”, “What are they going to think when they see my, more than entry level, Helmet?”, “What if they figure out my boots are brand new Petrie and judge me for that? They are literally overkill and I know it.”, ” They’ll judge me harshly because maybe they’ll expect that I should ‘KNOW’ what I am doing, or better yet, know that I shouldn’t bother trying!”, “Maybe I am too old, too tall and too heavy to ride a horse and they’ll tell me so when they see me!”, “Don’t men ride horses? Sure, but they’d expect a man to weigh over 140 lbs and would have chosen a horse accordingly.”

There I was, at the barn, mentally spinning out of control as I paced around the entrance way.  Is this where I was supposed to be?

At a quarter past 6, the lesson prior to mine was over and Laura the Instructor, Jen the Student and Scarlet the horse traipsed into the barn. 

Jen, no more than 13, was jubilant!  She was so excited she could hardly contain herself.  If I were to describe her emotions, it was as though she were doing acrobatic flips off the barn walls, over the horse and running circles all around us.  But no, she wasn’t doing any flipping, she was holding the reins, steady, guiding the horse.

“You can leave her here Jen, the next rider will take her out as she is.” Laura instructed

Jen looked in my direction, “Awesome, you are going to LOVE Scarlet, she is the absolute BEST!  She’s the GREATEST!” she exclaimed as she struggled to find the best adjective to describe her adoration and excitement. 

She handed the reins to Laura and did a little dance, a dance only a 13-year-old can do when they can no longer contain a feeling that just needs to be seen.  She tapped her feet around, did a little pirouette, tried to hand her riding crop to Laura but the hand-off failed as she continued to spin.  Eventually she pulled herself together and placed the riding crop on a stack of hay bails as Laura had instructed.

The moment she put down the riding crop, she dashed between Scarlet and myself, bee-lining for the door as she yelled back at Laura, “SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!!!!!”

And she was gone as quickly as she arrived.

Everything I had been thinking and feeling was gone, sucked out of me, I was focused and ready.  I was right where I needed to be. Thank you Jen!

Names have been changed.

The World of Riding

One thing is for sure, my feet were feeling itchy for some change. A year cooped up, working from home, masked in-person meet-ups, plenty of time for self-reflection, booking reading and mental gymnastics had me thinking “Hmmm”.

Before our premier announced today “Do not make any plans for Easter…, this is an announcement about an upcoming, unplanned announcement!”, before that, I decided to dip my toe into the world of Horseback riding.

After much googling and reading reviews, I decided upon a Stable / Barn / Ranch that would be adequate for safe, in-person, private lessons and a Store from which to buy suitable gear. I researched boots, helmets, pants and armed with all the information I could find, marched into an equestrian outfitters.

Before I go further, I want to point out that from the very beginning of this notion that this would be a good idea, I felt out of place. An interloper ready to give away my money to a sport that will most likely eat me up and spit me out. This really isn’t my game but I want to play.

So, in I marched, ready to talk gear and immediately I felt out of my depth. The lady was very helpful, asking me questions for which I should have and answer, such as “how much are you planning to spend?” and “What size of pant are you.” Easy questions and I just had a huge brain block.

“I am willing to spend as much as it means that I will be as safe as possible if I am thrown from the horse and / or if the horse decides to kick me in the head.” Why am I doing this? I can back out; I hadn’t bought the ticket and the train was still in the station. I stuck to my plan, buy gear no matter the cost!

I picked a helmet, boots and breeches. Now the breeches are really just fancy workout tights with rubbery designs across the buttocks and down the inner thighs – $170 please! The boots, a return from a lady who paid $$$$$ for custom footwear and for whatever reason decided against the purchase? On sale, but still steep. The helmet, for an extra $30 you can replace the front, decorative bezel. Decorative! $30! I bought the helmet, not because of the $30 interchangeable bezel, but IT’S ON SALE. Again, still steep but on sale.

I left the store a bit sheepish, still a bit unsure of the WHY I was doing this, and announced to the sales lady, “Well if all else fails, when I fall off the horse I will be doing so IN STYLE!”

She laughed and I dashed out to my car.