There exists a black and white photograph of me, taken over twenty-five years ago in the Lake District, next to a horse. I am wearing a long silk skirt and hold the bridles, while keeping the animal at an arm’s length. I look positively terrified.
My friend Margaret, whose parents’ farm we were visiting over the Easter break, was bent on teaching me how to ride. She had been an equestrian since childhood, and routinely galloped around Hyde Park, and couldn’t fathom how I had lived so long without getting on a horse. Once she saw my body language around her animals she quickly dropped her plans and settled for a walk around the lake.
Eventually, one my neighbours, about fifteen years ago, insisted I tried. And I did. It wasn’t fun, nor pretty. So it was really surprising when the same neighbor, who might have forgotten all about that first foray on a saddle, emailed me her offer to teach me to ride. “You love animals and nature so much” she enticed.
My first instinct was to thank her profusely and demur. Instead, I let the thought settle for half a day.
I have been venturing into unknown territory recently, and very much enjoying the results. I have been taking a free form movement and dance class that has given me a new appreciation for my body and left me wondering why I don’t dance more often. I have taken up crossword puzzles in English – a lifelong passion of mine, in Italian – learning to navigate the abstruse and unfamiliar clues with more success than I anticipated. And why shouldn’t I succeed? And I am embarking on a learning journey of sorts that has me very excited.
I ended up accepting my friend’s invitation, in the spirit of trying something new, and will be settling my butt on a saddle soon. This time, I will insist on no photographs. At least until I am ready to gallop down a beach, hair in the wind. Isn’t that what they always do in movies? We shall see.