I started out wanting to ride. Any horse available, any color, any style. I was lucky to get a good start with Mrs. Nussdorfer, a Pony Club Instructor. I didn’t know the difference between pony club or hunt seat and only knew Western Style riding from watching the Lone Ranger on TV. I knew I liked it all.
My first lesson horse was “Sunny” an off the track descendant of Man O’War. He was kind enough to teach me and fast enough to scare me cantering in a large field. This picture was from my first hunt seat schooling show. I am in pigtails on Sunny. My friend was a girl visiting from England riding Lucky. We shared the coat.
Besides Sunny and Lucky there was a pony called Brandywine Twinklehooves at Mrs. Nussdorfer’s small stable. During the hot summer days of 1972, some friends and I would take all three valiant steeds for a trail ride in the field, or through a small trail through the trees, or sometimes into the housing development. It was still safe to do this when I was 16 and living in Media, Pennsylvania. People in the development were tolerant of us. We were always in high spirits and yet remained respectful of the neighbors, stayed out of their manicured yards and did not allow the horses to eat the flowers. Riding bareback was the preferred method of trail riding. Brandy was the preferred mount because you could get on him the easiest due to the fact that he was closer to the ground. Sunny and Lucky were 16 hands and 15 hands respectively, so you had to turn them sideways on the hillside, leap up as far as you could go and try to hook your foot on the other side somehow. Some days we would hang upside down laughing like hyenas with hand gripping the withers and one foot hooked around the withers. At that point when you were all out of breath laughing, a friend would come over and shove your booty up on the horse. Amazingly, these wonderful horses tolerated these antics. If you took too long or were too rough the horse would turn and saunter back to the barn, bringing the frivolities to an end.
You had to prove your abilities in the lessons before Mrs. Nussdorfer allowed you to ride without an adult oversight. You never got to ride without mucking and doing barn work first. Proper grooming before and after any ride and tack cleaning was not optional.
But, oh! The fun of a bareback stroll with friends on a sultry summer day! Followed by a swim in the spring fed pool (only people, no horses). Happiness!
How did you learn to love riding?