I got a chance to go horseback riding last week. Growing up in Caledon, the opportunity to ride was everywhere–but for some reason, I never made the introduction. Perhaps because it was seen as an unnecessary expense? Or something no one ever thought would be a priority?

Well, as it turned out, the experience of driving up to Uxbridge ended up being purely magical. We learned the ropes in a safe, graduated way, got an amazing ride on picturesque trails and then truly bonded with the animals.

Petting the horse

Except for those from our group who had experience riding, none of us knew what to expect. It’s hard not to feel a little anxiety, but achieving a “first” means you’re having an adventure. The fact that the darkened skies kept spelling rain also put us in a different spot.

When it was time to step up and mount “Latte,” my aptly named/paired horse, I felt unease and a total lack of familiarity with the beast. This animal could have bucked me off with relative ease and made no bones about showing me he knew what was up.

Me and Latte

Out of everyone in our group, my horse seemed to be the lone non-conformist, refusing to line up facing the exit. I tried to turn him using the method we were shown, and he just didn’t respond.

“Let him know you’re in charge,” suggested someone.

I relaxed, and lo and behold, Latte began to respond, taking his place near the front of the line. During the last part of the trail ride, I really began to enter that quiet, contemplative head space–a place that is harder to access living in the city.

***

Inside the house

What we all learned was that animals are easily spooked. Especially prey animals that have learned to avoid humans for their survival.

Still, the process of bonding with a horse can be incredibly rewarding. They learned to trust us and we all learned to care about each other.

In the end, it was harder than you can imagine to watch that farm disappear in the rear-view mirror. Truth be told? We knew we were leaving a part of ourselves behind.

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