The Riding Lesson

stallion-422110_640As the car drove onto the gravelled parking area I was suddenly reminded of the Freiderich’s farm, the crunch of the driveway, the slam of car doors.

My sister would strap on a velvet hard hat and hop onto a horse for her weekly riding lesson. The other riders and horses walked slowly in a circle around the sawdust ring. The instructor, her fiery red hair loose and wavy to her shoulders in a white turtleneck, jodhpurs, and tall black boots stood in the center of the ring, a whip in her hand, giving instruction, and smoking cigarettes.

I waited with my mom behind the window. An hour, an interminable weekly hour. The farm’s owner, Mrs Freidrich, collected horses and everything in the waiting room was a precious antique rendered worthless in my opinion by the horse in its composition. There were horseshoe ashtrays and paintings of thoroughbreds, rearing Lipizzans with clocks embedded in their stomachs, but the piece that drew my attention over and over was Lady Godiva. She was solid black metal, smooth except for two raised nipples, Godiva and her mount, frozen in iron, bareback and bridleless.

I hated waiting but only sometimes did I dare venture out of the waiting room into the stable. The horses’ names were tacked above their stalls and they stood with their giant round rumps to the aisle gazing out of small dirty barred windows except for one, the stallion, Perusso. He was jet black and had a long unkempt mane. He stamped and snorted, pacing in his box stall, prison cell. If I stood on a straw bale I could look in through the bars, into the darkness, and sometimes catch Perusso’s wild white eye.

I dreaded the horses getting loose. Breaking down their tethers and galloping around inside the stable. I feared that once free their first task would be to kill all the humans.

I was trapped there too. At the riding lesson. Not that those killer horses cared but I was trapped there too.

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