I had the pleasure of visiting Eric Anderson and his family in Webster, Florida a day after I shot the FL Open match in Frostproof. I’ve never ridden a horse before in my life so when Eric told me that he had a spot in his Xtreme Horsemanship clinic, I was all over it.
The class that I was in covered many things including but not limited to riding over obstacles and just forming that trust-bond thing with your horse. Of course I was the only one in the class without my own horse and the Anderson Family was nice enough to let me ride RimRock, Sharyl’s (Eric’s lovely wife) trusted steed (Did I even say that right??). The whole family compete in mounted shooting and Eric was telling me that before the day was done, he was going to have me shoot off a horse. Oh boy….
We started the day bright and early in the morning. They had me sitting on RimRock and about half an hour later, Kiera Fiveash, a wonderful lady who took all these amazing photos and a good friend of the Anderson family, lent me a helmet. I think she got the cue after I asked for the third time if the saddle came with a seatbelt.
It was an amazing learning experience. First thing we did was to ride around the perimeter of the property. There were lots of trees, tall brushes and it all made sense to me why you don’t see cowboys wearing shorts. My jeans protected my legs from sharp, thorny and pointy bushes along the way. I learned to dodge trees and I think I got better at it when one of Eric’s friends told a story about someone whose head got decapitated when that someone lost control of his horse. That someone was a really experienced rider too! I practiced ducking as well as matrix style lying back on the horse…just in case…
We went back into the middle of the property where they had various obstacles set up. Riding on something that has a mind of its own is a total alien experience for me. Now I know what spurs are for. My Saucony rubber soles didn’t do squat as I just sat on top of a non-moving horse more than once or twice, trying to “gently” kick him to go forward. Despite a few frustrating moments (I was a lot to blame because I wasn’t showing the horse who was boss so I got bossed around), it was such a cool experience walking over some obstacles, going up and down steps, going through a “tunnel” that they constructed and finally, at the end of the day, Eric had me ride the horse in a full run which did the following to me: 1) scream my face off in terror, 2) made my life flash before my eyes, 3) for real out of the body experience and 4) full panic. All of which I don’t experience often because I’m a self-proclaimed control freak. It was quickly decided that there was no way in hell that I was going to shoot off the horse while in a full run. No thanks. Eric was just expecting way too much from me. But I did get to shoot while on top of a horse…but it was SLOOOOOOWWW and I was fine with that and that is another story for another time <don’t really want to talk about it and I hope the video evidence spontaneously combusts somewhere>…
At the end of the day, I actually sort of like horses now. They are fun to ride but a bond definitely needs to be formed between owner and animal to do amazing things like stand on its back or GO IN A FULL RUN! I was fortunate enough to ride on one that is trained very well. No, I will not be buying a horse anytime soon because I doubt that the HOA in my subdivision would approve. I got a certificate for my efforts and was actually not too sore after riding for 7+ hours!
I would really like to thank the Anderson Family for their incredible hospitality and friendship. I am honored to have been taught by them and I hope to ride again sometime!