I started riding horses when I was nine years old. I took lessons and then went to an equestrian day camp. Later, I worked at the day camp, teaching little kids how to ride and everything else there was to know about horses: their care, their anatomy, their habits, their markings and colors. I chose my college based on two criteria: having a good English department (thinking that I should be an English major because I liked to read. Derp.) and having an equestrian team. In college I went out partying until 3 am but still got on the van at 5 am to travel to horse shows at other colleges in our IHSA zone.
All in all, I rode for about thirteen years. And then I stopped.
After college, for a variety of reasons that were only slightly more thoughtful than those I used to pick a college, I moved to Brooklyn. I started my career in the publishing industry. I struggled to acclimate to city life, separated from the things that centered me, like spending non-public time outdoors and driving around and listening to the radio. I felt like I had been put in a zoo. I couldn’t sense the weather anymore, the millions of tiny nuanced scents and temperatures and moisture levels and pressures in the air that had greeted me upon going outside throughout my childhood growing up in the woods near the water on Long Island. But worst of all, I stopped riding. I was too poor and too distracted. Horseback riding is not very accessible in the city. I made excuses, and I didn’t do the thing I love doing most for nine years.
I started riding again about two months ago. Some cash got freed up by moving in with my boyfriend and finally paying off my student loans. I now live only a fifteen-minute walk from the barn. My former excuses didn’t make sense anymore. But most of all, I got sick of not doing the things I love and decided that now is the time to do them.
This blog is about the challenges, the strangeness, and the awesomeness of riding in the city. It’s about the process of going back to something with all of the mental aspects intact–the knowledge and instincts built up over years–yet having to start over physically, rebuilding strength and stamina and muscles that you don’t use for anything else. It’s about returning to something that I mainly experienced in an immature frame of mind and seeing what it’s like to do it as an adult. It’s about horses and how much I love them, about how I can’t believe I let myself go so long without them in my life and about the joy of having them in it again.