My youngest niece was six on Monday and as a birthday treat she'd asked to go horse riding. As neither her nor her sister have learnt to ride this meant they each sat on the back of a horse and were led around the area. Two children, two horses meant two adult leaders. Two adult leaders meant both my brother and myself were called into service.
I was a little dubious about this as my track record with horses is not good. The only time I've ridden was once in Iceland a couple of summers ago. I rented a horse for an hour and went out with a guide. As it was my first time I had a docile horse and we went very slowly. What could go wrong? Well, first my horse got a bit spooked by a car on the road, reared up and threw me off into the path of said car. The driver, who luckily was going very slowly, seemed a bit bemused to have a person suddenly land in front of him. But it wasn't a problem. I'd felt like I'd fallen in slow motion and so wasn't hurt at all. The horse was fine and I got back on. It was probably only my inexperience that caused this anyway as I'm sure anyone with even the remotest idea of equine behaviour would have been fine and controlled the situation without a problem.
The remainder of the ride back to the stable was uneventful and I quite enjoyed my brief experience. Of course, once back at the stable, I had to dismount. As I slid inelegantly from the saddle my finger caught in the mane and twisted. An hour or two later it was swelling badly and I was in a lot of pain with it. I had to pack up my tent, catch the bus to the next place and re-pitch my tent. All of this I did very slowly. The next day it was even worse. I went to the pharmacist who sent me to the clinic who sent me to the hospital. It turned out I'd broken my finger. But it was no ordinary break - why do something the normal way when you can make it more complicated? My x-rays had to be sent to Reykjavik for a specialist to look at and advise.
So as can be seen, my experiences with horses has not been very positive so far. The irony of how I can fall off and be fine, but then break my finger when getting off correctly was not lost on me. Luckily I'm fairly resiliant and the whole experience hasn't put me off wanting to learn to ride. If anything I want to do this even more now as I don't like feeling beaten by something.
However, I might be happy to get on a horse again myself, but it's a whole different story being in charge of horse with my young niece sat on its back. And to make me even more nervous, no riding hats were provided. We walked along the road and down a few lanes round the fields in a big circle. The horses stopped a few times to let us know that they were really in charge - they'd refuse to move for a few minutes - but overall it was absolutely fine. I was really relieved when we got back safe and sound though!