I was a pretty fair rider in my day. For a while, I had my own horse and spent several years of joyously riding him on the trails and in pleasure and equitation classes. Unfortunately, my horse tripped in a horse show and I ended up with a broken collarbone. I found a new home for my horse and stopped riding for a few years after that, but the horsey bug never left me. I decided to take dressage riding lessons.
I found a new dressage instructor at a stable not far from Chicago and arrived for my first lesson. I helped him saddle the horse and walked him into the riding arena. I don’t have particularly strong knees and am used to using a mounting block to get on the horse. This new instructor said “let me give you a leg up.” My heart stopped. I was terrified! I am rather on the large side and the idea of being vaulted in the air and onto the back of a rather tall horse was horrifying! I asked to please use the mounting block and he said, “no, I’m the instructor, and I will give you a leg up.”
He gave me a leg up. I came down on the horse’s back with a heavy plop, surprising the horse, the instructor and myself. I had no time to put my feet in the stirrups or pick up the reins before the horse bolted away and began bucking around the arena. Thank goodness, I had learned some very good balance in previous years and was eventually able to pick up the reins, control the horse and stop him from bucking, and get my feet in the stirrups. I was happily trotting around the arena, horse under control, when I heard a strangled voice say “please bring your horse into the center.” I did so and immediately noticed that the instructor looked more terrified than I was. He asked me to dismount and wait a moment. Soon, he brought out a much smaller horse and led him to the mounting block and I got on. The lesson proceeded, I enjoyed myself and I think the instructor recovered from that white faced terror.
The very funny part of this incident was that the stable had scheduled a rodeo in the same arena for that afternoon. While the first horse was bucking around the arena with me, some of the rodeo cowboys had gotten there early and were watching some of the lessons. I always wondered what they thought. Did they think I was some magnificent rider to have stayed on in that little English dressage saddle? Would I have won a gold buckle that day if I were riding in the