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horse Mad_Cow_Disease
After the infamous donkey derby incident it was to be twenty years before I ventured into a saddle again. There was only one exception when on a visit to London, I was forcibly manhandled by my father, while I objected in the loudest and most tearful way available to me, onto a police horse for the purpose of a happy memory photograph!.

Eventually while on holiday in my late twenties I was coaxed back into the saddle. The holiday was an action packed week in the Alps. I had at that point parasailed, rocked climbed, canyoned and mountain biked my way up and down several mountains. The opportunity to finally conquer my fear with an afternoons horse riding on an alpine trail was presented. Normally I would have politely declined and found an excuse but there was a dilemma. The persuader was a really attractive young girl on the same holiday as me and I genuinely believed sleeping with her would be a possible outcome of participation. I agreed to go.
When we got to the stables I immediately sought out a figure of authority and explained my predicament (I didn’t mention my motive for attending). I insisted that I was at severe risk in this activity and would only proceed on the basis of a categorical assurance that I would not be injured in any way, pride or otherwise.

This worked and galvanised them into action. The horse I was given was an extremely laid back, possibly tranquilised, and ambled along with the train of riders along a beautiful track. I also had the added and much hoped for bonus of the target of my affections being on the horse in front of me. This wasn’t so bad and my attitude towards my equine distant cousins was changing. Then my horse stopped. It had obviously not been as mesmorized by the backside of the horse in front as I was by its riders. Its head lowered to the ground and it began eating the grass on the track next to it. We were only a kilometre or so from the stables and I watched as the other riders ambled off into the distance.

I requested my horse to move, initially choosing a gentle verbal approach. This failed to land with the horse, presumably due to it being French. I tried what I assumed to be the universal language for horses, that weird clicking noise, but it also failed as did a tug of the reins. My limited knowledge of horse control was now all used up. There was only one tool left I could think of. I gently kicked it with my heel. Nothing. I did this about ten more times, each one increasingly harder until I eventually, mainly out of frustration delivered a pretty hard boot and the horse finally yielded to my domination of it. Unfortunately it yielded at a speed I hadn’t anticipated given its nature thus far. At what felt like Grand National pace it tore down the path. I hung on desperately and instinctively put my head down low (a flashback to my donkey dismount). I was terrified. We arrived at high speed into the stable yard. The other riders had already dismounted and were shocked by my rapid arrival.

Then my luck turned. The horse presumably happy to be home brought itself to an abrupt halt whilst inside the stable. Unfortunately my body didn’t and I slid halfway up its neck, just applying enough pressure in the stirrups to avoid going straight past its head and crashing into the side of the stable.

Luckily for me it looked pretty impressive and the assembled crowd cheered, including the girl for whom I had gone through this appalling experience. Being a lover of attention my fear quickly turned to smiles as I soaked up the praise of the assembled throng.
The owner smiled, knowingly at me, as I stood up confidently in my stirrups to dismount. As my leg swung over the horses back I inadvertently caught my steeds hindquarter with my heel. This time the fuckin thing responded to the gentlest of taps and moved forward, leaving my body behind. I fell off, just managing to catch my fall and ending up in a heap on the very smelly and hard floor of the stable grounds.

The girl was right in front of me and watched this unfurl. Later in the holiday she copped off with one of the guides. Whether this was a related event is a mystery to this day.

You will now never hear me making any form of commitment to having anything to do with horses, no matter how attractive the women concerned may be.