Sunday, November 4, 2012

Trail Riding

In which Murphy and his mom are very brave:

Ravelers know me as murphysmom; the Murphy in question is my beloved horse, whom I have known for about 14 years, and whom I have been privileged to call my own for about 6 years.  When I was a little girl, I had the typical little-girl obsession with ponies, which resulted in many pretend epics involving me and numerous intrepid steeds, but I was never able to fulfill that dream.

Until I had a little girl of my own, that is. We began riding lessons when Rose was 4; now, at 23, she is quite the accomplished horsewoman. I, on the other hand, am still just an intermediate rider, an ok, so-so, kind of equestrian, because when there was only so much money for lessons, it went to Rose, of course.  But Murphy came into my life at a crucial point, when I was despairing of ever really being a rider, and he made my dream come true. He is the kind of horse who knows when his rider is uncertain, and rather than cruelly taking advantage of your ignorance, instead kindly makes sure you are safe, and teaches you something into the bargain.

So I owe pretty much all of my skill to Murphy (and to my coach, Cheryl, and to Rose as well, for her lessons). But over the last month or so, I got to teach him something, and learned that maybe I'm a better rider than I gave myself credit for. The barn where Murphy boards has access to a network of trails, which is something I always wanted to do, but Murphy would never go beyond the first field onto the country road that led tot he actual trail. He would stop, and spin around, and flat out refuse to go forward. So for many years, I just didn't try - it was too scary.

But last month Rose and I decided that would take our horses on the trail, and see what happened. Her horse is pretty cool with trail riding, and I was hoping Murphy would just follow Katie. The first time we tried it, we got as far as the road, and the refusals started. Strangely, instead of being scared, I felt exhilarated - I let him spin around, and then we went juuust a little bit further forward, and turned for home. Success! I felt - I won the argument, I didn't fall off, and I wasn't scared. So for the next few weeks, we did the same thing, always a little further, and only turning around when it was my idea.

Today, we made it!! All the way down the road to the trail in the woods, for a whole hour, and, while not completely relaxed, Murphy was calm and willing, and went in the forward direction! A beautiful day in the woods, on my horse, with my daughter for company. Murphy learned that there are no equinivorous beasts on the trail, and I learned that I can so ride, I can ride for realz.


  1. What a beautiful creature he is. I took a few riding lessons as a child, but my family could not afford the horse lifestyle for us, alas!

  2. Thank you! I am biased, but he really is a beautiful horse. and he's now 26 1/2, and still very fit.

  3. He's gorgeous! Thanks for sharing a photo of your beautiful Murphy. I have always envied people who were able to ride and spend time with horses, as I was always too asthmatic or too afraid or just unable to do. They're so beautiful, and riding always looks like such a relaxing and peaceful thing to do (although I know from my one riding experience that it can be hard work, too.)

    1. Riding is my zen - impossible to be stressed after going up to ride or even just to groom and hang out with the horses. I'm glad you think he's beautiful, too :)