To me, horse riding centres around a kind of promise and bond between myself and the horse I’m on. I learn; sweat, bleed, fall off, occasionally break something, step in horse shit and horse piss, and get all mucky (while feeling over the moon) making sure you’ve got your post-exercise bath, and your regular feed and water, not to mention a safe place to rest. I probably test your patience by sweet-talking your ears off. And in return, you let me sit on you, cross all sorts of boundaries, try to overcome challenges, and sometimes take us to that someplace new. You are a part of what it means to know home, and to know the sensation of being free.
Freedom is riding in the wide open spaces of the Mongolian or Kazakh steppe. No houses or fencing in sight; the be all and end all of private property and capital aren’t slapping you in the face. It’s me, my horse, the feels of the balls of my feet in my riding boots pressed down and up into my metal stirrups. It’s the effortless (and much practiced) suspension of my upper body off the saddle in the canter, and the moulding of my seat bones into the saddle in the gallop. It’s connection. What does it mean to be so connected to another sentient being you can’t ‘speak’ to?