So, I’ve been using the iGallop, but to be honest, it’s not really like riding a flesh-and-blood horse, and in June we’ll be in Utah and Other Half has inexplicably decided to book us on a Red Canyon trail ride.
Now, I used to ride quite regularly, but over the last few decades my excursions on horseback have been few and far between and have usually resulted in a severe case of jelly legs on completion of said excursions. Not so long ago I’d have said ‘No bloody way am I going riding in the heat of the desert on a possibly rabid horse with triple E, where I might get bitten by a rattlesnake or at least die of heatstroke, but … well, you know … it’s the Depp effect in action again. I said ‘Fuck it, let’s do it!’ After all, Johnny himself has done the horse-riding thing in more than one movie, despite the fact that he is, as Tim Burton said once with a vague attempt at smothering his giggles, ‘not a horseman’. He appeared magnificently on a beautiful white steed in The Man Who Cried, briefly and splashed with mud in The Libertine, and most amusingly in Sleepy Hollow – after which he adopted his studio mount when he learned that it was probably going to be destroyed. He has, however, never to my knowledge worn a silk suit while riding a Gypsy Vanner across a field bareback, so it’ll come as no surprise to you all that I photoshopped the above picture using some of my own images.
But I digress. Back to my projected Red Canyon ride. I am not Johnny Depp, and neither (sadly) is OH, and we would not have stunt men standing at the ready to do the difficult bits, or lackeys to ply us with iced water in an air-conditioned trailer when it all got too much. And there was still the little jelly legs problem. I figured we’d be more able to enjoy the experience if we put in a little practice.
What to do?
After a little thought, I remembered that a while ago, our Village Advertiser ran an ad for a local stable which offered Western style riding lessons! Aha! The very thing! A few lessons prior to departure for the US of A might get me up to speed and offer OH a fighting chance of Not Falling Off, so I dug out the number, picked up the phone and rang to book some lessons.
‘Oh,’ said the young lady at the other end of the phone, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t do lessons anymore!’ and went on to offer me a part share in a ‘little horse’ which wasn’t at all what I had in mind and is actually a rather odd thing to suggest as a substitute for a few half hour riding lessons. Anyway, the young lady did suggest another establishment a little further away which also taught riding Western style, and I looked them up online.
Tomorrow. I’ll ring them tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll have some way of transferring two creaky old farts from ground level to five feet above it without ricking backs or dislocating anything, and I’ll be very interested to find out what it is.
Mmm. I’ll let you know how that goes, then.