We hung around the bungalow this morning, not doing much of anything except making bags and trying to figure out what sort of animal could have attacked our food two nights running. Today there was actually some damage— the cocoa tin was punctured and was halfway across the room, in a corner when we woke up. The interesting thing is that though everyone else heard it, I didn't, and everything went on at my head and underneath me.
So that was an interesting thing.
The taxi driver came about an hour early, which meant that we arrived at the horsback riding location an hour and a half early, which meant that I hung around reading and playing with the puppy. When the guide came, I, in my sandals no less, tried on the chaps (they cover your lower leg to prevent too much rubbing against the saddle), found a helmet, and curried and brushed Eclipse, a mare of what I think may be 30 years of age (like, 80 in horse years). One of the stable boys (bare feet) helped me pick her feet and put on the saddle (some things I don't mess with), I bridled her, and we set off.
It was slow going at first over the lava on the beach, then we got on the road, walked a bit to a field, trotted, cantered, walked some more through the forest, got to another field, cantered a bit more (Eclipse liked going fast whenever Black started trotting. She'd canter to catch up and get ahead, and I'd be stuck trying to hold on), worked on not panicking…
But let me pause and explain. I always liked going faster than usual— but this was an English saddle— nothing to hold on to in the front. I tend to slip to the right for some reason— probably from lack of practice— and so every time we trotted, cantered, or did anything slightly bouncy, I'd start slipping to the right, having to grab on to the front of the saddle so I wouldn't fall off or bounce right off the horse. (I didn't dare grab the back, which might have been more correct— that would have meant loosening the reins or holding them with just one hand, which while possible, didn't seem advisable).
Still, it was fantastic, and then we got to the beach. It's a long strip, right next to the barn, basically, and the guide turned to me, and we started galloping. It's only 10-15 seconds at a time, but a horse's maximum speed is 30-40mph. When we reached the end, we'd turn around and go again. About the fourth time through, at the end, Eclipse kept going, and everyone was shouting "Whoa whoa whoa!" while I'm trying to hang on, stop the horse, and make sure I don't run over any of the spectators.
Um… nothing bad happened… just that I realized afterwards I was taking a bit of a risk— the helmet was held on by a string with a quick-release knot.