I was 50 when I began riding but that’s okay. My horse was in his 60’s.
I wish I could say I was in better shape when I began riding Merlin. But I would be lying. This is a picture of me during my second lesson. This wonderful horse let me on his back and never protested my weight or lack of skill.
I have since made it up to Merlin. I bought him and he now has an easier life filled with playtime, love, carrots, companionship — and because I love Merlin, I lost weight. When he retires it will be to green pastures where I will visit him and talk long walks with him everyday. He has given me his best and he will always have mine.
The First Time I Met Merlin
At age 50 I began riding horses. Well, a horse, anyhow and our first meeting was rather unceremonious. I arrived at the barn and was directed to the tack area. There, a groom looked at a list and told me I was riding Merlin.
“That grey one,” he said, pointing to a small gelding with his head hanging very low to the ground. He looked half-asleep.
“You mean the white horse?” I asked.
“He’s a gray,” my 11-year-old explained slowly to me as if I was stupid. “He was probably darker when he was young. He is lighter now because he is older but his skin is black, so he is a gray.”
“Black is gray, but looks white?” I asked, stupidly.
“There are no such thing as white horses.” she replied to me, the stupid mom.
(I would later Google “white horses” and discover she was half-right. Merlin was a gray, despite his white appearance, but there was too such a thing as white horses who really were white — Merlin was just not one of them.)
Perfect For Me
Merlin seemed perfect for me. Not too big, half asleep, his lower lip hanging loosely — he must be old, like me, I thought. Surely I would not get bucked off today. Clearly this was a sweet (tired, or at least disinterested) horse that would not stomp, bite, kick, or buck me off. (As luck would have it, only 3 out of 4 were true — he later bit me on the ass and laughed.)
I was handed the reigns and nervously walked with my new friend to the ring, talking in a reassuring voice that we would have a great time today.
I was reassuring myself, not the horse.
I asked Merlin to please do not bite me or buck me off. I explained gingerly, he was sort of my first, if you do not count kitchen chairs, and well, please, be gentle with me.
Merlin just kept walking — he knew the way and the routine. He was probably thinking, “Another crappy beginning rider.”
He was right.