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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Only D Brave Reloaded - Movember riding

Hello and welcome to another entry of the Only D Brave.  I know leapfrogged the Olympics and Paralympics with my birthday log but let me return to it before recapping another Japan tale.

Quick recap of Olympics 2012

The summer of 2012 has been a tremendous occasion for sport lovers.  Euros 2012 in Poland/Russia, French Open, Wimbledon Tennis, but the icing on the cake was the Olympics and Paralympics.  The nation bonded and became focused on the multitudes of athletic events on show.  Handball, Boggia, Coxless 4, T41 200m.  If you didnt know what it was before, you became an expert by the end of the summer.  *Oh yes and lets not forget beach volleyball*  As mentioned before there was a real feel good vibe covering the UK.  Everyone had a common interest to talk about, national pride for your country of origin shone and in a strange way everyone seem to be in a happier, more you can do it mood. I loved everything about it except ... trying to get a ticket to watch the games.

The ticketing system was a mess.  First of all it was a lottery to get tickets in the first place, you had to give your card details and then your card was charged if you was successful in the ticket lottery system.  Even then, the tickets you purchased may not be what you wanted because the tickets were allocated at random ie a football fan could have got football tickets or horse equestrian ones o_O.

If you decided to wait to closer the date then you had the madness of the website, 99% of the time no tickets were available, the random times they were, you had to go through hoops to login, enter the security code, then select a ticket that says available but hit the next page to select how many it has sold out. If you were lucky to be able to select tickets then you choose to process your order and then have the fun of waiting in a virtual queue for 23 mins just for at the end of it, the message "no tickets available" to appear and ask you to try again.  The amount of times i tried to get tickets was ridiculous  pay taxes for the damn thing and cant even gain entry!  I was unable to get tickets to the Olympics but was more fortunate with the Paras and got to attend Olympic/Paralympic venues for three days!  Below are some of the pics of an amazing experience!

Movember riding - reloaded

I dont know if it was because I was in a new country but I was willing to try out new things.  So when the offer of horse riding was put my way I jumped at the chance.  Now I have vague memories of going on a horse when i was younger but I wasnt too sure so either which way this was my first time riding.  So the day started off with meeting te person who suggested horse-riding, my long time friend Chikako, at Hakata station.  We then made brief pit stop to the Chikako house where I met her mother, a sweet chirpy character.

Tally Ho!

We said our goodbyes to Chikas mother and then we made out way to the stables.  The owners of the stables were a husband and wife team and had known Chika for quite some time. After a quick introduction, we moved on to the track!  Chika and I both put our horse riding gear which conisited of a helmet, white gloves and a leather kind of shin pads. Since Chika had done this plenty of times before, she immediately got on a horse and started riding.

The male owner proceeded to give me a crash course lesson!   I thought that he was going to practice on a dummy or rocking horse first but no straight onto the real thing.  Im not sure if you have been on a horse before but the first time is one of the weirdest feelings!  Even though I know a horse is a living, breathing animal, in my head i thought sitting on the horse would be like a firm car seat.  So it came as quite a shock to feel the horses body moving, pulsating underneath me! Owner didnt speak English so the lesson was purely in Japanese and hand gestures.  He guided the horse with me atop it, in a small circular path.  The lesson consisted of making sure I had correct posture when riding, the jerks and pulls I needed to make the horse turn, speed up and slow down.

Giddy up!

After about 5 minutes the owner decided that it was time for me to go on the course.  I thought he was going to walk through it with me a couple of times because there were little hurdles/barriers dotted around the course which hadnt been covered in the lesson, but no he threw me straight at the deep end!  I didnt even know the Japanese to say I wasn't ready yet so off I went!  I started off with a slow trot. When riding a horse you have to switch between sitting and standing.  There is a certain rhythm that you need maintain otherwise you fall mine wasnt so bad, i was skipping the beat every so often.   I then came across the hurdles.  The first hurdle i avoided by making the horse swerve past it but I couldnt avoid the second one.  We were on a direct collision course with it and then... the horse jumped it.  I was so happy we didnt crash that i momentarily lost my rhythm and came perilously close to falling off.  However I quickly restored my composure and got back into the sitting standing flow again. This horse riding marlarky was a piece of cake!

Whoah horsey whoah!

The more time I spent on the horse the more my confidence grew.  I was able to alternate between a slow trot and a small gallop. I tried to jump every hurdle I encountered.  I was king of the world! Well I was until near the end of the ride the horse started to break out into a full blown gallop.  One moment we were doing a slow trot, the next the horse just started to accelerate off!  I was petrified, i've seen too many movies when the horse suddenly bolted and it didn't end well. You wouldn't of guessed i was fearfully clinging on for dear life, my face had a big ass smile on it.  It wasn't because i was happy or found this fun, no the simple fact was that i was so scared I couldn't even change my previous happy expression to one of terror.  The stable owner raced out, got on another horse and thankfully was able to calm my horse down.  Being thrown off a horse in my first month in Japan would not have been a good look.  I continued around the track for a couple of circuits but the horse sensed that i no longer had the confidence and would at some points try to make its own path totally ignoring my instruction.  The clever beast knew I was vulnerable and was taking advantage!

What a day

My horseriding escapade was at a end.  I dismounted the horse and with Chikako scrubbed down the horses we had ridden.  Once done, we went inside the stable ranc were we had small snacks and sake, while the owner told stories (translated by Chikako) of his love of horse riding and competitions he had entered.  He is a Yabusame archer.

Yabusame archers are skilled archers that able to hit targets, whilst riding a galloping horse.  The owner was quite famous throughout Japan but you wouldnt have guessed it by the way he carried himself.  I felt honoured to meet such a guy.  After we had finished our snacks it was time to say our goodbyes,  As a parting gift i was given a horseshoe.

Munch time

After a good day horse-riding (and surviving)  it was time to get my munch on.  So on the way back to Fukuoka city we stopped of to get some Okonomiyaki - which is like a Japanese pizza.  Fresh made in front of you its a fast semi healthy dish, great to watch being made but even better to eat !

Japanese word of the day - Fukuzatsu - complicated