Days off and short breaks are meant to be relaxing, right? Wrong! :-) Whenever I manage to get them, I like to squeeze in so many things that I need another break afterward.
One time, I had to go on a four-day business trip to Bonn, Germany, and took an extra day in order to travel to Denmark afterward. I had less than 20 hours to stay in Copenhagen, and I hoped that it would be enough to see the center of the city, visit the Royal Stables, and ride in the forest with Amager Rideterapi.
Reality exceeded my expectations. First of all, when I posted my plans on Instagram, I was contacted by the @TrendyDonnaLegWhear account, which sells tights for girls with passion. :-) The owner of the company happened to live in Copenhagen and managed to design a short walking tour around the center of the city for me.
I love strolling along the streets of unknown cities guided only by a map. And I would rather get lost than ask for directions. I agree that that’s stupid, but I like it that way. :-)
Copenhagen at 7 A.M. on a Saturday morning was absolutely stunning: the empty streets and squares were perfect for taking panoramic pictures; the beautiful shop windows made me lose my way more than once; I was the only witness of the morning national guard shift change; and parks were conveniently already open at that early hour. It felt like I had the whole city to myself; only rarely would I meet a jogger or someone walking their dog.
If someone were to ask me what color Copenhagen is, I would have to say that it’s brick orange and copper green. As I love all things related to horses, I take pictures of mounted sculptures wherever I go. And I have to admit, Copenhagen has the highest rate of mounted sculptures per square kilometer. :-)
About two hours and ten kilometers later, I got back to the central station, ordered some coffee with Danish pastries, and waited for Lenna, the owner of Amager Rideterapi, to pick me up. Her small company specializes in hippotherapy for people with mental, musculoskeletal, or eating disorders. It was really interesting to learn about how connecting to horses can help people become healthier.
The trip to the stables took about 30 minutes, and upon arrival, we were met by a friendly group of Icelandic horses.
Oh how I miss those fluffy little darlings. I got a 13-year-old bay gelding Baldur, named after one of the main Icelandic gods. It was such a pleasure to brush his thick coat and run my fingers through his hairy mane.
Then Lenna brought the tack. Both the saddle and bridle were unusual for me: the bridle consisted of two separate pieces (Lenna told me that it’s more comfortable on long trips to remove one of the parts and let the horses graze), and the saddle had pretty short flaps and a girth that was probably twice as short as usual.
While I was excited about the ride, I was a little bit nervous as well. At that time, I hadn’t properly ridden in about three months. Well, I guess a little flashback would be necessary to explain why my rider self-esteem had been crushed into tiny pieces.
Back to Bahrain: I’d retired my own horse Dream and stopped riding Romeo, the Andalusian stallion I was competing with before. The reason was that I couldn’t control Romeo around other horses: he would back, rear, and behave dangerously pretty much every single day we took him out to other stables. The owner decided to give him to another rider. Thinking about my failure with Romeo day after day and blaming myself for not being a good enough rider to reveal his talents, I couldn’t shake the sad feeling that I hadn’t progressed as a rider over the previous few years and had, in fact, became worse and maybe should quit riding altogether. I was offered other horses to ride, but frankly, I was simply too afraid to get in the saddle again.
So, when we went off on a ride, I thought that I indeed needed a therapeutic horse to cure me of my fears. And after riding the very dependable Baldur in walk, trot, canter, tolt, and even pace (by mistake :-)), I thought that even though I’m not the best rider and might never reach a reasonable level, I still can enjoy riding.
And, even better, during those “rideless” months, I didn’t completely forget how to keep my balance in the saddle.
We rode along the rural paths of Kongelundsskoven, which is located near Copenhagen Airport. Planes were taking off right above our heads, but the horses didn’t care. Every step my Baldur took, I fell in love with him more and more. His trot was amazingly comfortable, and he listened to the slightest changes in my balance and even to my every thought. For the full two hours, he was full of enthusiasm, nothing scared him, and he was mentally with me the whole time. We went through the Royal Park, climbed hills, and cantered on the beach… and I’m forever thankful to Lenna and Baldur for this therapeutic ride.
Taking off from Copenhagen Airport just four hours later, I had a second chance to see the route we had taken, only this time from above. I closed my eyes in an attempt to grab a little nap. My 20-hour-long trip to Bahrain had just started.
Useful links: @amagerridetur on Instagram