On the holiday, I headed to New Hamster for a horseback riding lesson that I was sure would catapult me into a life of trail riding in Montana. Too many memoirs of the West of late. So I met Dove, a Morgan horse, in his stable where the trainer explained we must first brush the horse. When Dove kicked his rear leg—a powerful kick for a horse with a gentle name—the trainer said, “Actually, I’ll brush Dove today” though I had already backed away. Another handler told us Dove likes to be out in the open for grooming, so we hustled him out there, but I still took a tentative brush to his muscular body. Didn’t want to anger the beast that I’d be climbing on in a few minutes.
“Now comb out his mane,” the trainer said. “He can’t feel it.”
Dove’s mane rivaled Medusa’s. I know how I’d take to someone dragging a comb through, but Dove was a trooper.
Minutes later, I had my boots in the stirrups, heels down, and was being led around the arena like a kid on a pony ride. A dog with a feather in its hair, ran around the dustbowl, pretending it was a horse. With the reins, I steered Dove around some cones but got the sense he’d done it a million times and my steering was just slowing us down. I did a lap perched like a jockey—half standing, knees gripping the horse—and then a bit of trotting, which involved that bouncing motion that looks so effortless but is not. Just so we’re clear, I will not be riding the range alone or breeding show horses anytime soon.