Superstition would have you believe that horseshoes will bestow good luck
upon a person; I know this to be untrue. I know this because when I was a
child my aunty took me horse riding.
Every Saturday I would wake up early and dash downstairs, slip into a thick
woollen jumper, cream jodhpurs, struggle with the black ankle boots and have
the hard black riding helmet ready next to me on top of my dark green parka
alongside the leather thonged riding crop.
I'd eat my favourite breakfast of Kellogg’s Frosties and watch the morning
cartoons until my aunty arrived. Sometimes we would go by bus and other
times on her motorbike with me in the pale blue side car.
The first hour or so was the boring part were I would have to feed and water
the horses and muck out the stables, the air was claustrophobic and the smell
was horrendous. It would be about 11 in the morning that I would saddle up a
horse with the help of one of the instructors or my aunty. I'd double check all
the straps of the saddle and harness, making sure none were loose, and then
lead the horse by the leather reins from the stable to the open field. The horse
would be calmly chomping at the bit.
Slipping my foot into the metal loop of the stirrup I'd hoist myself onto its
back., the sudden rush was dizzying from quickly gaining three feet in height,
then I'd grip the horse with my thighs and hold the reins tightly for dear life.
Then, once I had established my control over the beast I'd lead it into the field
and canter, trot or sometimes, if I was feeling daring enough, go for a gallop.
While on horseback, feeling the wind rushing against me, I could pretend to
be one of the heroes from Ancient Greece. I would be Jason, Perseus or
Hercules, my riding crop a trusty sword as I dispatched branches on trees
before they whipped me in the face; I lost few of these battles.
As time wore on and I became more confident I entered into tournaments and
won some rosettes in show jumping and all was going well and continued to
for a couple of years, until I met my nemesis. His name was Toby, the new
stallion in town and such a proud and striking beast he was.
I arrived as normal that Saturday morning and carried out my chores. When
the time came, Toby was led out and saddled up. I followed the same routines
I always did, then climbed carefully into the saddle.
As we approached the gateway to the field, Toby became more spirited and
started to throw himself about, bucking up and down.
I cannot begin to tell you how frightening it was and for all my experience my
strength failed me. Throwing himself once - I bounced and was off balance,
twice - I panicked as my feet came free of the stirrups, thrice - in my panic I let
go of the reins, causing me to leave the saddle. Sailing through the air,
weightless, defying gravity, until I came to a jolting stop.
A plain wooden fence had broken my fall and stopped an impact with the
hardened earth, which may have been kinder to me.
I guess what I am trying to say is that beneath me I had four horseshoes for
luck, it wasn't enough.
I have never ridden a horse again since that cold February morning back in