Let's see - how did it start...? My elder sister - one of my elder sisters, actually, as I am endowed with several of those: 10, 15 and 16 years older than me, plus one elder brother, who's 17 years my senior - used to go to a horse farm situated on the outskirts of our little town when she was a teenager, and take riding lessons. She grew up to be a real expert, rides to this day, and her horsemanship is truly remarkable. Anyway, in these early years I was still little but of course I wanted up on that horse, only when, hands under my bended leg , she gave me a flip I just slithered across the saddle and fell down on the other side - all very ungraciously. After that riding was out, definitely, for the next thirty years or so. Till - and now the story beomes somewhat embarassing...
Has it ever happened to you that you met somebody and were filled with an instant dislike of that person? (I can but hope you're not thinking: 'Indeed, that's exactly what I felt when I saw your mug appearing on the navigation page of this boring website.' :) Without that person's fault, he or she is nice enough, still, you can't help it - it's the opposite of love at first sight. I had that experience when several years ago first the "Hercules" and then the "Xena" series started airing in the US and inevitably found their way into German tv, so that one day in some magazine or other I came across a photograph of actress Lucy Lawless made up as the latter and smiling. In a blink I decided never to watch either of that series, ne-ver, even though Fantasy, SF, Horror and all such are my working territory as a translator and I ought to keep myself informed on what's going on in that field. Then I found out that one of my favourite actors, Bruce Campbell, was playing *Autolycus, King of Thieves* (on no account ever say *Prince of Thieves* where he can here it :) in 'Hercules' as well as in 'Xena'.Okay, all right, for his sake... And it was worth it, oh yes, it was, even though I couldn't help but notice in passing Ms. Lawless fencing, riding on horseback, and I was told that she could sing. Enough! That I considered trespassing onto my territory! Next day I had my foot in a stirrup and was heaving my butt onto the back of the Hungerburg's fine Trakehner stallion who, because he's smart, gentle and has a beautiful even gait, is the *professor* for equestrian neophytes.
The *Hungerburg* is yet another horse - and cattle - farm on the ourskirts of my little town. This is a rural area. I like it there because you get to ride different horses - and they are different, meaning each one has it's very own unmistakable personality - , and you have to clean and saddle them yourself and stable them again when the lesson is over. Also the horses are kept very *natural*, they can amuse themselves out on the pasture, rolling in the grass and the mire - sometimes it's so bad that especially the white ones all look alike: green-yellowish, caked with mud, reminiscent in fact of Campbell & Hurst in 'Hercules' episode "OneFowl Day".
On the photo above you see 1.) either Merlin or Madame, his sister - on a picture they're hard to tell apart; he is more sedate, she's very fast and always striving to be up and away; 2.) Ballerina - she can make it tough on you when you try to take her out of her box, and has her own thoughts about brushing and hoove-cleaning and that damnable saddle being put on her back, though strangely enough she's very good-natured once you sit on her back and very sensitive to aids you give her; my stomach flutters every time I read her name behind mine on the list but all in all we get along surprisingly well. I like her and 3.) Berni (Bernstein), Ballerinas big brother, and I mean big. He's a bit of a Stoic, an attitude he can well afford, considering his size. Of course he has fire too, being a Trakehner of pure stock, only it's slow to kindle. I've ridden most of that outfits mounts: Burgmar, who will stop halfway through the stable door to lengthily contemplate the ways of the world; Fee, who felt rudely interrupted at her breakfast when I came to take her out and began to turn around and around, me circling with her, clinging to her headstall so that I wouldn't fall behind and come within reach of her hindfeet; Merlin, very obliging; Madame, easy to handle but eager to run and hard to hold back; Lisa, a pony but iron-willed, who led me a merry chase zig and zag and to and fro across the yard and round the dung heap; Berni, Ballerina and, of course, Fetysz (sp?), the stallion - dappled silken coat and flowing gait.
Sadly I have neither the time nor the money to really dedicate myself to that sport - one hour once a week is all I can afford, and sometimes, when deadlines are looming and I have to kneel into my job, long lapses occur in my training. I guess I have to stay a footslogging amazon... :)
(BSE and foot-and-mouth disease have made the situation difficult and gloomy. It's just no fun anymore when you look at cattle and can't help but think that anyday they might be slaughtered alone on being suspected to be infected with a) a virus nobody really knows anything about or b) because they look a bit strange so let's better kill them all and apologize later. Moreover, you might have been the unwittling carrier of one virus or the other and so be responsible for their death!)