A memorable moment this morning. For the first time in my life I rode a horse. Well, when I say rode I mean sat on and let him follow another horse around the paddock. Pretty scary, since horses are (follow me closely here) big. Getting a knee up I seemed to rise and rise. It took me forever to get to the top. Once there I flopped around a lot before settling into my natural riding posture which my host, whose farm it was, described as, Saturday night special. Mostly I tried to keep one leg on each side of the animal.
From atop my steed, the world looked different. In front of me was the dark mane and bobbing head. Around me the glorious sunshiny morning, green and golden. And below me - far below, it seemed - were the people, smiling up at me, laughing, shaking their heads. This five minute ride (and it was no more than five minutes, though I was concentrating so hard that it seemed both longer and much shorter) gave me a sudden visceral insight into the class system. As I remember my European history, the upper classes rode horses and the lower ones didn't. The difference, I now saw clearly, was as much physical as economic. The upper class was in fact six feet or so farther up. Those people don't matter, I thought to myself, smiling down at my friends and fellow guests. They are below me.
It was a disturbing and unnatural thought. And when my oh so gentle horse bent forward suddenly, and I slid forward and fell, landing luckily on the soft grass, rolling over and standing up again, I felt -- well, I felt foolish, of course, but also in a way relieved. I was back where I belonged.