I went riding last night, so for the second week in a row I'm spending my Friday convalescing, sitting delicately in my office chair and tending to my shredded muscles.
It was cold -- 27, I think, but for some reason I'm less of a baby about the cold when I'm out riding than when I'm running (or worse, cycling, my god). I wore a wool sweater with an unlined rain jacket, because that's the only jacket I have that I can actually move in. My only riding gloves are for summer. They have thin leather on the palms and fingers and crocheted backs. They're so old and dry and cracked that I put a hole through the thumb after just one ride.
There's some gear I'm doing without that I am loath to buy, but if I'm going to keep riding I don't have a choice. It's all so expensive and I can't really justify the cost, but I also can't keep borrowing other people's stuff. I need a pair of stirrups and stirrup leathers, a helmet, and now, new gloves. If you've ever bemoaned how expensive gear is in your sport, I invite you to shop for riding gear sometime. The helmet the cool kids are wearing these days cost $610 and nope, it's not any safer than a $25 Bell bike helmet from Target. The less-cool one I'm settling on is $200. I'm trying to find most of this stuff on eBay.
Last night we rode in the jumper ring, the football stadium-style lights in each of the four corners casting long shadows on the ground. We traced circles in the sandy footing and the horses whuffed and snorted softly. For a moment, and with the help of my colleague who was watching and giving me some real-time feedback, everything clicked into place. I started actually riding, instead of just sitting. I was overcome with bliss. This, this is what I missed!
There are a whole lot of things I hate about this sport, but when it's good, it's the absolute best.