I'm on a Horsie!!

Many little girls dream about getting a pony. I've never been sure why. Horses are...horses. They're big, smelly and they have a mind of their own. I can't imagine they like having people climb on their backs. One false move and a horse could dart off and leave you laying on the ground crying in pain. Plus, they crap wherever and whenever they want to. That's not cool. It's like they have no shame!! They have always just freaked me out. I've done my best to stay away from horsies. I couldn't imagine any reason why I would need to go near one. But then again, I couldn't imagine I would go to South America.

Like many things, I blame Adele (in a good way, of course). "We should ride horses on Easter Island!!" She was so excited about this idea that I almost didn't have the heart to tell her that I had a severe dislike (not really fear) of horses. I paused for a moment and explained that while I was super excited to hug on llamas, I was highly wary of horses. I didn't say "No!! Never!! It will never happen!!" We both knew that the trip was far enough away that we could figure this out.

On Oscar Night, I saw the Groupon. 30 Minutes of horseback riding lessons for half price at Equidream School of Horsemanship. We had a few conversations about riding a horse before we leave. Just so we could get used to the horsies. If we're going to do it, let's do it for half off.

We decided to make a day of it. Horsies, REI and Kuma's. I was looking forward to REI and Kuma's. The horsies...not as much.

The day started early enough. I had made the executive decision not to go to Weight Watchers this week. Ugh...I've been spiraling out of control food-wise. Kuma's was not going to help the situation, but too bad. So I hit the road to pick up Adele in Barrington. We knew Starbucks would be in the works. And after a Chai Latte, we were on the way to Grayslake.

When we walked into the stable, I started getting wary again. Oh, I'm really going to ride a horse today?? Really?? Ok. First up, the waiver. If we died, it wasn't Equidream's fault. Wary!! Next, the helmet. Again, they don't want us to die. But my helmet did have a bow on the back. Yay!! Then, it was time to meet my horsie. My horsie was Mr. Freckles.

Mr. Freckles (or Freckles, as he likes to be known), was an excellent horse for a first timer like me. He seemed to be a little on the lazy side and would rather walk or stand instead of trotting. And that was ok with me.

(pic from the Equidream website...we didn't get horse pictures when we were there)

We learned several things in the 30 minute lesson.

Lesson #1 - How to get on a horse. It involves stairs and a bit of prayer. I'd never been on a horse before, so I didn't know what to expect. I was concerned, because this was really go time. I couldn't turn back. But I swung the right leg over and I was sitting on a horse.

Lesson #2 - How to steer a horse. To turn left, pull the stirrup on the left side. To turn right, pull the stirrup on the right side. To stop, pull both stirrups. Seems easy enough. Like driving a car. A 1200 pound car with a mind of his own?? Yeah, just like driving a car.

Lesson #3 - Riding a horse while NOT being led on a leash. We walked for a few minutes while being led by the trainer. When the trainer stopped leading us, I needed to take control of Freckles. I can barely take care of myself. I wasn't sure how to take control of Freckles. Luckily, we were indoors and Freckles goes through this a lot. He just walked around the building. I was supposed to make sure he didn't cut the corners. He mostly cut the corners. Who am I to tell a horse what to do??

Lesson #4 - Posting the Trot. What?? So the horse basically jogs, and I have to stand and sit while on the horse. This doesn't even sound easy. And it wasn't. I could barely stand while sitting on the horse when he's standing still. Like I'm supposed to stand when he's moving?? I eventually did it a few times, but after the trainer said, "You're bouncing up and down, not really standing." Yes, yes I was.

Lesson #5 - The Dismount!! After trotting for a while, and a 5 minute cool-down (for Freckles, not for me), our 30 minutes was over. I expected the trainer to walk us over to the stairs. Nope. Surprise time!! "Take your feet out of the stirrups, swing one leg over the horse and slide down." I'm sorry, what?? We don't have help with this?? Good Lord. I did sit on Freckles for a few more minutes before I could get the nerve to get off of his back. I did eventually swing the leg over and while I wasn't completely graceful, I did make it off the horse.

And with that, I've ridden a horse. I still don't know if we are going to ride horses when we're in South America, but I at least won't be so afraid. So that's a good thing.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention our lunch/dinner at Kuma's. Post horsie, we did some shopping (REI and Old Navy). We were going to have a late lunch at Kuma's. Oddly enough, our 930a Chai had lasted as our only food all day long. We got to Kuma's at 430p and was told it would be a 3 hour wait. I was a little concerned, because I was hungry. But with a steady stream of Cider (the adult cider) and the hard rock soundtrack, we didn't really even notice the time. And it wasn't 3 hours before dinner. It was only 2 :)

I've waited for years to go to Kuma's. This place has been on TV several times. It's always called the Best Burger in Chicago. It needed to be tried. And it did not disappoint. From the Mac and Cheese in the beginning (with sun dried tomatoes, scallions and andouille) to the burgers themselves, the food was amazing. I ended up with the Lair of the Minotaur, which was a rare burger topped with pancetta, brie, caramelized onions and bourbon-soaked pears. It was on a pretzel roll. A PRETZEL ROLL!! I did inhale the burger quick. Well...the half burger. By the end, I was all but pounding the table in both defeat and in food joy. While the burger did beat me (not uncommon, I must say), I will be dreaming of the day when I get to come back. Though, I do have a half of a burger left to be eaten on Sunday. Yay!! I win!!

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