Saturday, March 9, 2013

Today I Pet a Baby Horse...

And it was incredibly cute! More about that in a minute.

This morning was my third riding lesson at some stables about thirty minutes drive from my house in the Phakalane area of Gaborone. You really feel like you're out in the bush at these lessons - my teacher's driving directions to me for my first lesson were, "Go to Phakalane, keep going until the paved road turns to dirt. The dirt road will turn to tar again, then dirt, then tar, then keep going and our farm is on your left." I find it so interesting that just a short drive through Gaborone and you're truly out in the middle of the Botswana countryside - along the way you have to stop periodically for cattle/goat crossings and you can catch glimpses of beautiful horses grazing at several other stables.

These riding lessons have become the highlight of my week and I enjoy them so much that I am willing to drag myself out of bed before 8 on a Saturday... that's no small sacrifice!  But it's worth it for all the fun I have learning how to ride. I'm no expert- this is my third lesson- and so far just simple exercises such as guiding my horse around the practice ring and making him stop at the right places have been challenging enough. Some of the other lesson-takers there are quite good though - the other week I watched a nine year old boy galloping around and even jumping over barriers several feet high. That's a little intense for me, for now I will just concentrate on making the horse go and stop, thank you very much!

The stables are owned by a South African woman and her daughter (the daughter is my teacher) and there are a dozen or so horses stabled there as well as a bunch of dogs and cats roaming around the place. Walking around and visiting all the animals before and after my lesson is almost as much fun as the riding lesson itself, and I was so thrilled today to find a new, 10-day old colt in one of the stables! Later in the morning the baby was put out in the fields to graze with his mother, and some of us girls were standing around wondering how to make him come over so we could touch him. So I just called out, "Here little horse, come here!" and lo and behold over he wandered... problem solved! He is such a sweet little thing - still unstable on his wobbly skinny legs, with a black velvety coat, tiny hooves with white socks above them, and a fuzzy mane growing in. I wanted to take him home with me!!

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