For the past 10 years, I’ve read (and re-read and re-read and re-read) the Valdemar series of books by author Mercedes Lackey. They’re fantasy and nerdy and I love them so much that I usually read about six of them each year (currently reading ‘Oathbound’, in case you were curious). (Yes, I own them in paperbacks and e-reader form).
In these books, the Queen or King of Valdemar have this special ‘army’ made up of special people called Heralds. Heralds are ‘chosen’ by their companions, which are basically these white horses who can psychically talk and are magic (there is much more to them than that, but that’s the jist of it) … (IS THIS THE NERDIEST THING I HAVE EVER WRITTEN? PLEASE KEEP FOLLOWING THE BLOG.) So. Every autumn I pick up these books and get swept away to this land of magical white horses who choose special people and make them even more special, and every autumn I’m like “damnit, why am I not special?” and spend a few days pretending we live in a world with magic. It’s…healthy.**
(**you did NOT want to see me during my Harry Potter phase)
So! When I decided to fulfill a childhood dream of going horseback riding, naturally I was hoping for a white horse. I thought there was no way I’d get a white horse. Most horses are brown! Who even has a white horse?
It looks like dreams really *can* come true!
This, is Hoi. His name is short for the Maori word for horse, hōiho. I was given him to ride as I had never been on a horse before, and Hoi was an old, gentle giant. He was remarkable.
Before I get too gushy about this, I should tell you that horse riding is terrifying at first. Like, not only did I think I was going to break the horse’s back, but when he started moving, my body started moving and I let out this scream/screech that made the owner yell at me (apparently if you scream, the horse will know and could totally freak out).
But, after we got riding a bit, and he tested me a bit, I got the hang of it. He was slow and steady, save for the time when he started GALLOPING UP A HILL. It was scary but the most amazing thing and I wanted to keep going forever. The instructor said I had perfect form and must have been a queen in a past life! *gush gush gush* He also kept stopping to eat grass and checked every food bin we saw, so obviously we were well matched in the overeating department. I loved him.
Horse riding was amazing and I can’t believe it took me 28 years to do it. I can’t wait to go again! It’s such a fantastic, calming way to get around, and I seriously felt like I had a connection with that horse. I was chosen.
At the end of the ride, I gave Hoi a pet on the head and told him he was beautiful and that I loved him, and he fully nuzzled into my body and just hung out there for a minute. It was magical. I. WAS. CHOSEN.
New Zealand: LAND OF DREAMS!
If you haven’t been horse riding but have always wanted to, please go. Grab a Groupon or just save your pennies and do it. Spending $100 to go riding is a great experience, so stay in one weekend and use your bar money for horse money. Honestly, it’s just so cool.
(( Also, if you haven’t read any Mercedes Lackey books I’d really recommend them. Start with the Arrows of the Queen books (Magic’s Promise is really great too). Then message me and we can talk about what powers we wished we had! ))
***Edit: After writing this, my friend reminded me that I also did a five week archery course last year. I completely forgot that I knew how to do archery. Guys. I AM PRACTICALLY A HERALD RIGHT NOW. GUYS ACTUALLY. Read about my very first archery class here.