One of my favourite writers once described a horse-riding lesson in Egypt. He says the teacher told him to, ‘ride the horse like you would [ride] a woman.’ So let me just start by saying that riding a horse is nothing like riding a man. Unless of course I’m doing it wrong.
My princess was born on my 21st birthday, and every year, we like to do something special together. So when we found a Rupu Deal for horse-riding lessons, it seemed like the perfect way to spend our born-day. We also had a henna date, some shopping, and some KFC, but that’s another story.
The horse-riding place is somewhere in Karen, near Tangaza College, and there were 10 or 12 of us that session. My horse’s name was Capital City, while princess had a horse named Blaze. I asked the horse-handler if the horses were girls or boys. He said both. So I asked him about mine. He giggled, gave me an odd look, glanced beneath the horse, and said, ‘boy’. Okay then.
As it turns out, Capital (pronounced Kaptoo – I kid you not) is a tad … shall we say … feisty. He was being ridden by a … lighter rider with … longer hair. But she objected, so we switched. Two, no matter what anybody tells you, climbing a horse is not like the movies.
In westerns, the rider either springs up effortlessly, or is lifted in a pseuodo-sexy-hand-on-rump way by some gorgeous cowboy type. In my case, it took three guys to get me onto the horse, and I was so focused on huffing and puffing that I really can’t tell where their hands were.
After four attempts, I finally mounted, and looked over to see my baby girl comfortably astride her own horse and looking anything but fettered. Well, her horse was shorter. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Three, horses are not as they appear on TV. They’re a lot bigger, and not nearly as pretty.
When I finally got on, Kaptoo tried to nudge me off. The horse-handlers asked him to behave. (Actually, they said ‘Kaptoo, acha ujinga!’) When I asked what was wrong, they told me Kaptoo likes to test his riders, to see if they have the … balls … to ride him. Apparently, his first rider didn’t, hence the exchange. Me? I was petrified!
After a short while, Kaptoo’s handlers decided that I had passed the test, and congratulated me for not letting the horse bully me off his back. I smiled but kept my mouth shut, for fear that if I opened it, I might squeal. I did let out a few sounds, eventually, but somehow, all I could think to say was, ‘Whoa’, which everyone assumed was me using horse-speak. Yeah, that wasn’t it.
The first part of the lesson was how to … um … ride. We were asked to keep our backs straight, and to match the rhythm of the horse. Up – down – up – down – up – down. Yeah, okay. I tried to set the pattern, but ended up bouncing like an over-sized ball. Not fun. My baby was giggling like she was born in a saddle, and I was looking at my watch to see how long before they’d let me off the thing.
The horse handler laughed and told me to set my feet straight. ‘Wacha kukanyaga kama brake. It’s a horse, not a sports car.’ Thanks, very helpful. After four circuits, I finally got the up-down right and Kaptoo decided to stop bullying me. The horse handlers let us run a little bit faster, at which point I realized that I should have worn a sports bra. Male riders may be worried about their family jewels, but I clearly had … other problems. The horse handlers didn’t mind much, but I was sore in places no girl should be sore.
After running around the track, we were taken on a nature ride, by streams and trees and whatnot. Kaptoo seemed calm enough, but he kept trying to ride into the bushes when his handler wasn’t looking. I distracted myself by listening to one of my fellow students. He was telling the girl behind him he was every woman’s dream, a man on shiny white horse. Hehehe. Gotta love the British sense of humour.
I also noted that horses move their … hair … out of the way whenever they … use the bathroom. Who’da thunk? Anyway, by the time my hour was done, my horse handler was claiming I had ‘a knack’ for horses, and that once I got used to them, I’d never want to get off. Me, I think I prefer my rides to be mechanical. At least cars and bikes don’t have mood swings.
Horse-riding wasn’t what I expected it to be. But I’m glad I got to tick it off my bucket list. And since my little princess liked it so much, I expect I’ll find myself back on Kaptoo sooner than later. Maybe next time, he won’t keep trying to throw me into a bush.
♫ Shut up and drive ♫ Rihanna ♫