Brisbane, QLD

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Horses for Courses is an English/Australian idiom with the following meaning:
Something that you say which means that it is important to choose suitable people for particular activities because everyone has different skills. 

Well this meaning suits me down to the ground as I am not suited to the activity of horse riding. When I was a child I had a best friend called Kerrie.  She and her family were a big influence on me when I was growing up. They were what we call"dinky di Aussies" and they taught me to be a tough Aussie kid except when it came to horse riding. They tried their hardest but never succeeded.

I was about nine years old when  Kerrie first introduced me to horse riding. I was at her house one weekend when she was minding a friend's horse. All the neighbourhood kids were taking it in turns to have a ride bareback. In her broad Aussie accent Kerrie calls,  "C'mon Diane your turn!"  I was a bit nervous but keen to do everything Aussie kids did, so Kerrie and the others gave me a leg up onto the huge beast. They gave me some quick instructions and said, "You'll be right."

The horse could obviously tell that I was sh*t scared and it decided that it wasn't going anywhere and just stood rooted to the spot. Kerrie and friends were yelling at me, "Kick it with your heels!" I gave a timid tap with my heels but to no avail. So then Kerrie and the others started giving the horse a smack on the rump and yelling at the animal to get moving.

Suddenly, without warning the horse took off and galloped across the dirt road and towards the trees. I was bouncing around on its back hanging onto the reins but didn't know how to use them. The horse made a sharp turn to avoid the trees and the last thing I remember was hanging on to its neck and sliding towards the ground.

When I woke up Kerrie's father was carrying me into the house while all the time berating Kerrie for causing the accident. Kerrie's mum put me in bed. She rang my parents who came to pick me up in Dad's work truck as we didn't own a car. Before they arrived I started throwing up, I was obviously suffering concussion. I had landed on my head but luckily nothing was broken. Unfortunately for Kerrie, she got a hiding every time I threw up. My mum being a nurse was able to mend me fairly quickly.

Every time Kerrie went horse riding after that she would invite me along saying, "You've got to get back on and keep trying or you'll never succeed." I did try a few times but I was always nervous.
Me, Jean and Kerrie about to go horse riding.

I'm not enjoying this.
When we were 16 Kerrie entered the work force but I continued at school. We didn't see much of each other over the next two years and I didn't go near a horse. She was socialising and I was studying but when I finished school we  started doing things together again. Yes, and the horse riding invitation came again.

I had just been tthrough a sad and traumatic experience breaking up with the love of my life and I was keen to put it behind me and get on with improving myself. So I was determined to become a horse rider. At nineteen I tried again. Have a look at the photo above. Look how Kerrie far right and Jean look so darn comfortable but me....I'm nearly wetting myself with fear, trying to smile and look confident.

The horse riding operator was aware of my fear and gave me the quietest horse in the stable.  I climbed aboard but the horse could sense my lack of confidence and just stood there and wouldn't move. My earlier experience flashed through my mind but the operator got the horse moving for me and she was a quiet mare. The whole time my heart was in my mouth and I was scared it would take off and I wouldn't be able to stop it. I didn't enjoy the ride but I loved my girlfriends for trying to help me overcome my fear. I even had nightmares about not being able to stop a horse that I was riding.

After this effort, I decided that I wasn't suited to this activity and I would develop other skills. I never rode a horse again until I was in my forties, when my daughters insisted we went horse riding while we were on holidays at Byron Bay. I must admit it was a lovely ride through the bush and along the beach. My heart was pounding most of the way but I was proud that I had done it. It is amazing how doing things for your children can make you overcome fears and just do it. However, I've never been on a horse again so these old photos capture a rare moment in my life.


  1. a very sad story. i'm the same but i never got back on. i'm a chicken. i can't roller skate either. i think it's amazing that you still have those photos.

  2. Although I grew up in the country, there weren't really horses around. I've never liked them and I would never get on one. A seaside donkey ride is ok though.

  3. Unfortunately your first try was bareback so whn it took off you had no way of stabilising yourself with feet in stirrups. Out on a property it happened to me once but stipidly I hung onto the reins because I was afraid the horse would get into trouble. I took most of the skin off the top of my leg but I had to let her go. My skin healed and my father put me back on again. As you say thay"s the way it was. M

  4. I'm with you. Large animals freak me out.

  5. Wow - hi Annie, that's of Oakley fame!
    Great starting explanation - "horses for courses"! Works with racehourse, Melbourne/Adelaide/Perth horses race anti-clockwise, Brisbane and Sydney horses are vice-versa many don't handle the change - we race clockwise. Then there is Caulfield racecourse in Melbourne, many of the best of the best, for reasons unknown to man, just cannot handle that track!! Quite weird really.
    I think that is where the staying originally came from?????
    Note Kerri's hands on the first photo - left hand for rein control.
    Right hand for the whip etc. Of course both hands are necessary for jumping.
    Kerri must have been quite a good equestrian???
    Very interesting story of your youthful life.
    Colin (HB)

  6. Diane, I don't like riding horses either, after falling off one as a child. The shop floor was really, really hard.
    But no one can accuse you of not giving it a jolly good try!

  7. loved the story and that second paragraph is superb. i have not heard the horses for courses, but it makes so much sense. some parents try to force their kids to do things they are not suited for, as in a boy who likes to dance and not play ball. great story, and glad you got back on the horse at 40.

  8. Diane, I loved this story. You can not say you did not try. I have taken riding lessons and have rode a horse many different times. But, I am still not a pro at horseback riding. I am glad the last ride with your daughters, it sounds like a happier experience. Happy Sunday!

  9. Horses pick up so fast on the personality of who is near them. Come visit me. We'll try it again. :)

  10. I only can say you were very brave ! Nothing in the world would have convinced me to climb on a horse ! I was terrified by them. I remember my father offered me a quiet important amount of money just for one try, but even that couldn't convince me and when Dario started horse riding and I had to drive him there I stayed far away from the stables !
    Today I am not afraid of horses anymore, I go near them and pet them, but still I wouldn't ride on them ! I prefer camels, lol !

  11. Ronald Reagan used to quote, "There's nothing better for the inside of a boy than the outside of a horse." I think that's true whether you are on the outside or just near the outside! I opted for the "on" position for a while, but I just do the "near" these days! This is a great story, and thanks for sharing. The best posts are the ones that you share and it triggers a similar memory for a reader. Great job!

  12. Good pictures from the past. I also did some horseback riding when I was 17. I was in a guest family in the States and they had a ranch so what do you do. I learned the hard way but after a few days we even went to the shopping mall on a horse. It was fun. After my adventure in the States (for a month), I never climbed on a horse again.


  13. Thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures and your 'adventure' with us. I'm glad you weren't seriously hurt, and I'm proud of you for taking a ride with your daughters. I rode horses fairly often growing up in the country, but it's been years since I was on one.

  14. But you tried and it shows your intent to live life and try things whether or not you are "suited" for them.

  15. You are very brave getting back on a horse. I cannot ride a horse. They are such huge animals. I tried once, high up in the Himalayas. Once on the horse the guide rode off whilst my horse was having none of it. He was certainly not going to entertain some novice on his back so he found some melted ice had a drink then wandered back to where he was kept! I never got on a horse again.

  16. I have always been too afraid to even try -- so you are definitely one leg up on me (I guess that would be two legs)! I love your memory-sharing posts.

  17. Me neither! I hate, hate H*A*T*E to ride! I'm awful at it, I am scared witless the whole time and it's no fun for me at all. (Nor, probably, the horse, either!) I last rode about 4 years ago on the Caribbean island of Grenada. It was NOT a nice experience and I will NEVER EVER get back on a horse again. Not for no one, no how, not NEVER.

    We can go look at pretty flowers while the horsey set goes for a canter.

  18. When I was in in high school me and my best friend were invited to our friend Brenda's house and we went horse back riding. It was the first time I had ever been on a horse = no saddle. I was so scared. When we got back to the house the horse threw me. I went riding one more time with my husband in college - hated it, never rode again and wouldn't ride for my kids or grandkids. :)

  19. Good on you Diane for getting back on the horse. Lovely to know that you could eventually enjoy a ride with your daughters.
    I used to ride and loved it.

  20. Great that you got back on later. I had a friend with a horse as well and she allowed me to ride when it had to colld down in the paddock. It only stepped slowly so no worry. It only didn't like me once and starting racing. As there was no saddle I was easily sliding of and had a good fall. It didn't worry me that much I think as it didn't hurt too much

  21. I am glad that you recovered from your fall. I remember my first fall in Rhodesia I was told get back on and keep going, no time to stop and think about it. I had broken my thumb!! Take care Diane

  22. Watching the Olympics shows us how much skill is involved in horse-riding - AND how easily bad accidents can happen even to those who are experts. NOT being at least a little bit afraid is foolhardy!!

  23. I also remember being egged on by my childhood playmate Alison to ride her horse. He was a very kindly one and managed to put up with a frightened kid (me) on his back, and ambled around their garden.

    That meant that, in my twenties when my housemates suggested that we go horseriding, I was feeling more confident than I deserved and fell off about 100m into the ride, my undies full of dirt and prickles!

    Thanks for sharing your memories.

  24. Oh Diane thank you for the look into your past. I was thrown by a horse and stepped on and have not been on a horse since then. That was in my twenties before that I used to ride bareback all the time but now I am afraid and they do sense that. I do so love horses though. Still a horse person but a scared one:) B