Know what you don't want to do when you're alone in a horse field covered in 2+ feet of snow, surrounded by horses trying to kick and bite each other (and possibly you)? Take pictures.
Of course this means I did it anyway. Well, tried to. The horse on the left that you can hardly see? That's Irish. The pony on the right, that's Buddy. They apparently do not like each other, if this morning was any indication.
The horseback riding is... well, it's challenging. And by challenging, I mean I'm having to steel myself for each new experience. I don't know if it's a fluke with the farm I chose, or if something just isn't meshing. The first few lessons resulted in a runaway horse, almost being bitten and kicked, and a horse that refused to obey not just me, but the trainer as well. So, we all decided (including the horse, as far as I'm concerned) that we'd try a different horse.
Today I left early enough so I'd have an hour to find and meet the horse and get him ready for my lesson. To put things into perspective, this should take about 20 minutes. After arriving, I made a guess as to which field I was supposed to find this horse I'd never seen. There are quite a few fields, and this one was so large, I couldn't even see a single horse. Sinking into the 2 feet of snow step by laborious step, I tried to drink in the peace and quiet of the outdoors and nature. Not much happening on a this country farm at 9:30 on a Sunday morning. But really, I was thinking, "What am I doing? I'm paying for this?"
Once the 10 or so horses heard me coming, they started up to me. I had managed to find their worn-in path, which made the trek a little easier. But as I encountered each horse, they saw me as an obstacle in direction they'd like to be heading. When a giant animal sees you as an obstacle, you move out of the way. Quickly. They did stop to let me pet them, after it was clear to them I was willing to move out of their way. This happened 8 times until I met up with Irish. A mostly white horse, he's got big brown spots, one blue eye and one brown. He also wanted me out of his way. I walked between him and the remaining horse, who felt free to nudge me if I wasn't moving quickly enough for him. Nice.
Once we all ended up at the top of the field (for, of course, this field is a giant hill), I had run back to the barns and to find my trainer for more instructions. He wasn't wearing a halter and there were none to be found. Finally, in possession of a halter, I got him into it and attempted to lead him out. This is when all the other horses got agitated. I'm not sure if wanted to go instead, or if they just didn't want him to go, but kicking and biting ensued. This is when I thought I should take some pictures. Genius? Yep, I think so.
After much effort, I got him up to the barn. Again, all alone. Me vs Horse. We literally had a tugging match. Can you guess who was won that one? After pushing and pulling, and just general begging on my part, I got him mostly ready. Seems I was late by this time, because my trainer came to find me. Immediately on good behavior, we got him ready and down to the rink. I was ready for a nap, and my lesson was only beginning!
My 30 minute lesson passed relatively quickly, and I was charged with undoing all the "getting ready" I had managed before the lesson. Alone back in the barn, the halter I needed was on another horse. Come on, really? Stretched between Irish and the other horse's pen, I attempted to coax the other horse to stop eating long enough so I could get it off him. Really, I'm not going to recommend this tactic. Horses don't really acknowledge this. Lots of sighing, and maybe some foot stamping ensued. (Wish I could say it was one of the horses.) Both horses seeming to have a really good time alternately watching and ignoring, me. Thankfully, another student's father came through the barn at this point because I was pretty close to losing it. He held Irish while I quickly jumped in and out of the other horse's pen. I managed to get Irish all undone relatively easily. As we were leaving the barn, he rediscovered some hay and refused to do anything but eat for awhile. I tried to get him to move, pushing and pulling what may as well have been a boulder.
Finally, finally, we ended up at the field. Of course, the gate opens out, so I had to pull the gate open while getting attempting to get Irish to move close enough so I could open it, and then to back up at will. Um, sure. He was eating a bush at this point, so I shamelessly grabbed the branch he was eating and threw it into the field. In he went, and home I came.