Captain of Stables
Originally uploaded by mercutio2k
I made it to the stables again this past weekend. I was to meet Al Jauhara and family and take a riding lesson. While I waited, the Captain of the stables and the stable owner's son were putting some very handsome horses through their paces. Riding at a gallop, jumping barriers and just doing laps around the arena. I put the time to use photographing the horses and just watching, trying to get a sense for posture and foot position.

After a time Naif, the owner's son, came over and introduced himself. We talked in general about life in Taif. He had recently moved to Taif after finishing university in Riyadh. Taif is dull to him, and if I was in my early twenties it would be boring to me as well, I suppose. But, there are horses. After a short time talking he invited me to get dressed and get on a horse.

Before heading to Germany I had bought jodhpurs, chaps and shoes. I put these on with a long sleeve shirt, it may look warm but it does get cool in the evening. Attired all in black I got back to the arena and mounted up. Stirrups were adjusted and foot position checked by the handler, who spoke no English. Once the basics were done, we started in. He led the horse around the arena in circles.

The Captain came over and made sure I was holding the reins correctly and then I was left on my own, well, with the handler. We went round and round. The man explained to me how to turn and how to stop. We would practice stopping every now and then, pulling back on the reins. The Arabs have no care for pulling back hard. I've been told they have a heavy hand when riding, which doesn't really surprise me. But it means I'm learning the same habits, and all the horses expect it.

Al Jauhara and her family showed up after a time. Daughters and son piling out of the car, with the nurse getting out a basked with dates and coffee. I waved at their arrival, but kept up my regime of circling the arena. After forty minutes, I was allowed to ride on my own and experiment with directing the horse as I liked.

While I did my riding, a Shetland was brought out for Al Jauhara's youngest. Her son mounted up and did a few rounds as well. Middle daughter had proper lessons and the eldest girl wanted to know why I hadn't brought my motorcycle out. Not everyone is enamored of riding it would seem, at least, not of horses.


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