Horse riding raises the same question as ballet: why is an adult woman taking this up so late in life? This time I solved it by taking my eight-year-old with me, which brought a fresh problem: she’s a natural. She can’t do a rising trot for 50 yards without someone shouting “Brilliant!” at her. I’m not one of those mothers who says that about everything: her nickname is Harper the Quitter. So I felt a bit stupid, like I was trying to bust into her street dance troupe, but on the other hand, there I was, on a horse. And aren’t they lovely?

We went to Allendale riding school on the Isle of Wight, and got to the point quite fast: rising trot is nursery slopes stuff in riding terms but, as exercise, surprisingly strenuous. All its principles are the opposite of a regular workout. You can brace your abs if you feel minded, but nobody ever mentions them. Much more important is to put your weight in your heels, but with your toes pointing upwards, and to keep your legs relaxed.

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Vijay Nanda

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