It’s always good to be back home, I am fortunate enough to be able to call home two places – one is my beloved London and another one is my home country Lithuania. Both have special place in my heart, only in different ways, both provide me with sense of comfort and belonging. I am a big fan of exploring, going to new places and getting to know different cultures. However, I am also a believer that everyone should have a place in their lives where they feel like at home, where they can find their comfort zone when it’s needed, somewhere to retreat. Sometimes it’s a country we are born in, other times it’s somewhere we simply feel like at home.
Last weekend I visited Lithuania, before going there I came up with an idea to go horse riding, thank you to my favorite person on the planet (my mom) for being my partner in crime this time, also for organizing it for me before I flew home ( give thumbs up to my mom!). At first she was hesitant to try it herself though…but believe me I can convince people into basically anything. 😉
So here we go – it’s Sunday morning, it’s snowing and it’s cold outside but excitement wins and we are on the way to our horseback riding lesson.
Once we have arrived to horse riding school Molainiu zirgynas located in Panevezys, our instructor Daiva briefly introduced herself and took us to our horses where she explained the basics of horseback riding, what to do and what to avoid doing.
Tips that stuck with me:
- Sit straight and try to relax your body
- Try to synchronize horse back movements with those of your own
- To make a horse move, you have to stick your ankles into sides of lower body of the horse using stirrups and keep moving it back and forward
- Keep reins short and hold it still, no need to move it unless turning around
- Always look at what is in front of you, not at a horse
- Stay calm and relaxed but always be ready to act quickly in case horse is intimidated and goes into aggressive mode
Most importantly, YOU ride a horse, not the other way around. So you have to do it right or it can get dangerous.
Although it was not my first horseback riding experience, it was first time someone actually explained me how horseback riding works in such a detail.
Once our lesson started, our instructor mostly was leading us by staying in front of us and keeping horses on leashes. Although for a first 20 minutes I felt far from comfortable sitting on a back of my new friend Fokusas, it was also a good feeling as my body was pumping adrenaline for sure. Sometimes all you need is stepping out of your comfort zone, I definitely was out of it in that moment. It felt like my life depends on this huge 500 kg weighting animal, but as I was reminded once again shortly, it is far from the truth – we humans, are the ones who have an absolute control over horse when we riding it, the most important thing is to ride it correctly. If we know what we are doing as well as listen to what instructor says, we can be sure that we are safe and will have an enjoyable experience. Instructor Daiva even compared riding a horse to riding a car, not in any bad way, she just said, once you stop using your body to move it forward, it stops and does not know what to do any longer, it loses sense of direction.
Half an hour into our lesson, Daiva asked us if we would like to ride on our own for a bit, without her taking a lead. I was a little hesitant but ambition and willingness to try it have won. Here we go – I am on my own with Fokusas, who quickly decides to have a wonder around neighbouring fields with myself on his back.
‘Okay, keep calm and ride this horse back on the road! You are in control, Laura!’ I kept repeating in my head, to prevent myself from panicking which would be absolutely useless in that situation.
Moving my ankles back and forward in stirrups, using reins to direct the horse, doing all what instructor taught us to do.
‘Yes, it’s moving towards the right direction, oh no, not that way…’
Fokusas decided to take 3 leaps in the fields before I managed to ride it back on the road. I stayed calm and carried on while instructor and mom were getting a little panicky when they saw us having a little wonder in an open fields.
Keep Calm and Carry On was definitely my source of inspiration that day.
The rest of the riding session went smoothly, I am pretty sure Fokusas was simply testing my character with that wonder in the fields. During the second half of the ride, I have started to really enjoy it, I felt relaxed and simply was having an amazing time (so did my mom). Of course I remained conscious of my surroundings and kept looking forward as instructed but I felt more in control. It was one great experience, definitely recommended to those who like to try something a little challenging (both physically and mentally), like sports and spending time outdoors.
Until The Next Adventure
*Name Fokusas means ‘A trick’ :))