For the last five or six weeks , my friend and I have been going to a stables in Sangju City on Saturday morning. It's an international caliber facility run by Sangju City located just an hour from Yeongju. They take the best care of their horses that I've seen so far.
Way back when, I gave up horses to come to South Korea and my first five years I hardly rode at all. However, when horses are truly in your blood, being away from them does not diminish that love. Anyway, long story short, I've come to accept that I cannot life without horses. Which is funny because I'm terrified of them. Well, I'm terrified of everything. Take ice for example. I hate ice. It's slippery and easy to get hurt. I also hate escalators, though I've some how managed, not overcome.... had I truly overcome the fear, my heart wouldn't jump into my throat just be for I step on. What I've learned to do is to not think about it and pretend it ain't no thing.
That's also how I ride horses. Thirty years of being on the back of these creatures has not resulted in what you'd call a confident rider by any means. No, no. I'm terrified. It sucks to love something that terrifies you. And I totally don't mean like the way a horror movie terrifies.
Anyway, long story long, I have been riding this horse named Dream. The first week I rode her well. The second week not half as well and last week the instructor is like, "What are you doing on the ground?"
"I got scared so I baled," I muttered, spitting dirt from my teeth.
Actually, what really happened is this: I switched the whip from one side to the other like I've been trained. But none of the horses are used to that and Dream shied. And that would have been fine. But I panicked and then sat on the horse like a bump on a log, assuming bumps can shout "whoa" while flapping the whip in the air. Then, because I clutched up like a deer in the headlights, I fell off.
This week, I got to ride another named Jo. At first I was disappointed but then when I rode Jo, I wasn't terrified I was going to die so I started to have fun. But Jo wouldn't go into a canter (run if your not a horse person) and so the instructor tried to give me a whip. I reached out for it, Jo flinched Fearful Fred was like "Nuhhh." The instructor might as well tried to hand me a poisonous snake. Later, I told him , that I'm afraid.
But later, I felt like, yeah, maybe he gets it, but probably not because, if you're not a fearful person it's hard to get. I"m going to reference a book, Ride with Your Mind by Mary Wanless. In it she talked about how some people feel disconnected to the earth, like they could just float way. I couldn't comprehend this, but what she was really talking about is how everyone has a different experience (and perception), even those people who enjoy the same activity. She talks about the journey, getting to know who you are and where you are, because how can you begin to progress if you know nothing?
These ideas are not just ideas about riding, but ideas about life. In order to get to France, you have to know your place of departure. And so it is true with all aspiration, whether it be to ride horses or write stories. Where are you now really? What your strengths? What are you weaknesses? One more thing Mary Wanless says about riding, but is so true for other things to. There is only the journey, really. The destination is not the end, but rather a goal that has been reached. Beyond that goal the journey continues.
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and 17 chickens.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018