Hooked on horses

Words: Meryl Rosenberg & Neigh-Bours

So now you're hooked. You've had a few riding lessons and are astounded at the enormous sense of achievement derived from being able to successfully steer your school horse around a wooden ring at a walk!

Hooked on horses

You're feeling a little more confident and a little less shy, and are happily chatting to the people who have arrived for lessons the same time as you. In fact, you’ve even plucked up the courage to chat to a few of the show jumpers who ride in the advanced-group lesson after yours.

It never ceases to amaze you how they spend an hour leaping over huge fences in their lesson and emerge still immaculately dressed and without a hair out of place. They certainly don't seem to suffer from the 'hat hair' syndrome that leaves you with an unattractive mop plastered down the side of your face after your half an hour of a walk lesson: sweaty, red faced, and in disarray!

On closer inspection, their riding helmets look like something out of Mission Control: matt black graphite, aerodynamically sculpted with scoops and swoops, and ventilation areas. With bling. While your helmet, provided by the riding school, looks like a black velvet covered metal pudding bowl.

After another satisfying lesson that ends in unsatisfying hat hair, you inform your instructor that you think it might be time you got your own helmet, and what can you expect to pay? She says, “That depends. What's your head worth?” Point taken!

You leave clutching directions to your nearest tack shop, and on arrival are gratified to see that even though there is a truly dazzling array of products on the shelves and racks, you are able to identify quite a few! (You now know that the mesh contraptions hanging over the door are fly masks, not horse blindfolds!) A perky young assistant comes up to help you - she looks just like the show jumpers who rides after your lesson! As you're shown to a tower of hats on display, you see the familiar aerodynamic shapes and are surprised to discover how lightweight they really are! After trying on a few, you find one that fits both your head and your budget and thinking you're done, head to the cashier, when your friendly assistant says, “Don't you need some jods, too?”

Jods turn out to be jodhpurs - extremely tight riding pants. Unless you've put on 5 kg between taking off your jeans and trying on the jods, they are made to test your self-confidence! Breathing in hard and walking out of the change room very carefully, you manage to squeak to the assistant that you think they may be a little small! “Not at all,” she says, “they stretch.” You certainly hope so, else you may have to deal with a permanent voice change. They are padded in strategic areas and missing the seam in your jeans that chafe you! Hmm, this might work out after all … and they are still inside budget!

Hooked on horses

Thinking you're done, you're about to head to the cashier when your friendly assistant says, “You'll need some riding boots too.” These somewhat surprisingly turn out to be rather fashionable short ankle boots that can also be worn with jeans - you could probably go out dancing in them! Although the budget's starting to get a little tight, they are multipurpose, so you concede.

Thinking you're done, you're about to take your parcels over to the cashier when your friendly assistant says, “You'll definitely need chaps now!” And that's when the fun starts …

See you for your lesson same time next month!

Win a horse riding lesson

Answer this simple question and you stand a chance to win a free horse-riding lesson at Chikara Stables, in Nooitgedacht, Johannesburg.

Q: Jods are another name for … ?

To enter, email your answer to . The competition closes at midnight on Friday, 17 January 2014. The winner will be drawn from all correct entries. DO IT NOW’s terms and conditions apply.

About the prize
The prize, valued at R200, may be taken any time before 31 March 2013, on a Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday afternoon by prior arrangement. Chikara Stables cater for all levels of rider, specialising in nervous beginners or rusty adults! Be sure to wear closed shoes with a small flat heel if possible (think school shoes), as well as long pants (jeans are perfect) and long socks. Chikara Stables will provide you with a safety helmet.