This is an update on my new life as a professional groom and riding student… (sounds impressive huh?) So I live in a 3 bedroom flat about 200m from the yard by myself. It’s quite an impressive place, view of the mountains, fully equipped (with everything except a kettle…grr) but its quite lonely. I keep the TV on to keep me company (all 4 channels in Spanish). Luckily I’m so busy I never really spend much time here. I spend 8am until 8 – 10pm at the yard. My day consists of (you guessed it) a lot of moving large quantities of poo around, riding, drinking coffee, siesta-ing, eating and playing with a gremlin-esque dog called Winnie the Pooh. I’m still getting to know all the horses, I’ve only been here for 4 days, but there’s a great variety of personalities in the yard. Don’t ask me to use all their names cos they’re all in Galego and no native English speaker can pronounce their names without their tongue falling out.
There are a number of young horses (most of which are friggin huge!) who like to bite things (fingers and lead ropes) and are very frolicky and fun. I love young horses because, compared to our two gerries, they are always so excited to see you, greeting you with delighted whinnies and nodding up and down. They a handful when they’re tied up but they always look so beautiful, rearing and pawing the ground, despite the fact that they’re being very naughty. There are 3 foals and a couple of preggaz brood mares, foals are lovely to play with and you have to watch your hair but they’re always up for a playful fight. There’s Ben, the English thoroughbred who’s just been trucked in (looks like Black Beauty, absolutamente bonito!) but has breathing problems and needs to be fed, bathed and cleaned like a newborn.
So after I finish mucking out and putting out and bringing in and checking the fences and sweeping the yard, I get to ride. Today we went on the most beautiful trail ride I’ve ever been on, through little villages in the mountains and with views over the whole valley (I’ll try and get some photos next time). They call a trail ride a ‘ruta’ hehe! Then after that I got on a gun of a horse called Tecal (a steel grey arab/Spanish cross) and had an hour’s jumping lesson. Now there’s something you should now about riding – its not just sitting on a horse. Apparently that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years! No no, riding PROPERLY is all about ‘contact with the inside leg and outside rein’, ‘keeping hands down during transition and switching leg contact’, ‘putting the horse at a jump perfectly straight, fast enough to gain momentum and slow enough to maintain control’ and some of this comes at me in Spanish!!!
My first lesson I almost came off because I was leaning forward too far over the jump and I think Tecal can sense I’m not a jumper and freaks out at the last minute! I’m only going over 80cm – 1m jumps and I’m struggling! I’m using muscles I’ve never used before and I’m absolutely buggered after half an hour of riding. I think everyone things I’m a massive amateur but even after 3 lessons I’ve learned so much! And not only about riding, I’ve witnessed a ‘pregnancy check’ (basically a man sticking his hands up a horse’s shoofter), an attempted foal weaning, learnt how to tie multitudes of safety knots, alternative horsemanship like bit-less bridles and countless (possibly useless) information on the performance on different breeds and the best way to approach them. Imagine what I’ll learn after 6 weeks!!! It is hard work, I have blisters on my riding fingers and they’re getting infected and sore, I have bruises from the wheelbarrow and I am homesick, but this is such an amazing experience and I really think I will be glad I did this. I feel a sense of accomplishment doing this, like I’m not just touring the touristy cities and seeing things everyone else sees, I’m tailoring the holiday to me and what I like. Michelle my trainer is taking me to a fiesta in town tonight which should be interesting (especially working the next day!), so I somehow think this intended diet will have to wait until I get home. But I’m hoping I still feel so optimistic after a few more weeks!!!s
The People You Meet
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