As you may have gathered from the 'camping' post my Dad was a country person at heart, he hated fuss and he hated things that had a right and a wrong way of doing them. He felt things should be learnt instinctively and shouldn't be taught. This was how he 'taught' me to ride. I was very lucky to have a childhood where riding was possible and my Dad took me riding first on donkeys and then on ponies on Dartmoor when I was a young child. I was given a pony when I was about 12 and I spent every evening cleaning the stables and exercising my pony until I got bored and went to college at about 18. I rode him on my own on the Mendips - my parents didn't ask how long I would be or worry where I was.

When I say my Dad 'taught' me how to ride what I mean is he showed me how to get on and off and encouraged me to be fearless, to be confident and to be in charge of the horse. He didn't encourage me to canter in figures of eight, to groom and pet the horse or to worry about how to do anything correctly. He always thought it amusing that anyone would need to 'learn' how to ride and said that you had to fall off one hundred times before you became confident.

Unfortunately, this confidence is all very well if you grow up with something, quite another if you experience it in later life. My Dad tried to learn how to ski at the age of 40 in Austria and was embarrassed to be known as the 'English Clown' but as he always said 'you can tell if someone has started something as an adult as they never quite get the hang of it'.

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