So, something I've been told -- by my instructor among others -- is that generally you can tell within a few lessons whether or not riding is right for you. Some folks who have been excited about it have their interest fade quickly after they realize how much work it is or things like that. (Considering I'm not only signing up for another month of lessons but also actively pursuing the option of volunteering at the stables, both the stable owner and my riding instructor have told me, with laughter, that they do not think this is a concern in my case.)
And really, although I ache after riding, and I still have a very, very VERY long way to go in learning stuff. I feel like I've found something that was missing. Writing code, writing fiction, all that sort of stuff is nice, but I feel more... I don't know how to describe it. Lessons on Thursdays -- and really any day I can make the time to get to the stable -- are quickly becoming one of the focuses of my week. Friends who see me in person say that I seem more alive and enthusiastic and cheerful overall.
In general, there are two kinds of satisfaction I get in life. One is personal satisfaction from an activity; coding is an example here. Even when it's frustrating, I'm usually enjoying myself, and so I have a lot more patience with it. The other is satisfaction on behalf of others; it can be a greater satisfaction, but I get less from it as a constant. System administration is an example of this; even though I'm good at it, I don't actually enjoy sysadminning in general, and as such it's much easier for me to get frustrated by it. (As anyone who's seen me get word of a security breach on some system I have administrator rights on can attest, as I start storming around and growling imprecations of doom, or pleading with the server, 'no, you really don't need that library...') And yet when I get through all the hassle and get it fixed, and see others able to do the things they wanted, my satisfaction is higher than just the satisfaction I get from writing a bit of good code.
I've realized that the horses supply me both kinds of satisfaction. I enjoy riding, and even just working in the stables with them. But since the horses are involved, there's also the satisfaction from others. There's this great sunny feeling I get when Chester shows affection in general, or gratitude for a treat or a grooming session or anything. Plus, it's like making a friend; even if Kara has me on someone else in another lesson, I imagine when I go back to volunteer in the stables on non-lesson times, or after lessons, I'll visit Chester.
And so I come home from the stables sore and achey but feeling alive and greatly pleased in general. Overall, even though I'm achey, I feel more energetic, more revived after a trip to the stables. This is something I'm definitely going to stick with, because after nearly a full month I feel a great deal more alive, healthy and generally improved. So it's time to start looking ahead down the line.
I've been told, among other things, that if one is serious about riding, it's really worth looking into half-leasing a horse after about six months to a year. My riding school -- and really all of them I've found around here -- do half-leases. And even for further down the line, the stable owner will actually take first-time buyers from the school -- even former students who aren't at the school anymore! -- under her wing and help them find a really good horse, and help them get everything squared away. (She rocks. Plus, you have to respect someone who has decided that her money is better spent on the horses than on her own home, so who lives in a camper/trailer on her farm and spends all her money instead on making sure all horses who live or board there are comfortable and happy.)
Another bit of advice I've been given is that if one ever intends to own or fully lease a horse, one should start a 'Horsie Hope Chest,' and basically begin not only saving money but collecting the more generic equipment (brushes, hoof picks, etc.). I was told this when I observed that a lot of people at the school have their own grooming kits which they use on the school horses, even though the school has (a LOT) of grooming equipment available for students. Probably something I should start looking into.
So I've been doing a lot of thinking. Much as I love my Beetle, the car payments on it -- and the insurance payments since it's a car that is only two years old, was bought new, and qualifies as a luxury car under some terms -- are a little pricey. (The Beetle costs me about $700 a month, between car payments and insurance and the averaging out of all the money I spend on the six-month tune-up/checkups I consider mandatory.) If I /did/ bite the bullet, lose the Beetle and find a cheaper, used car, I could easily start saving horsie money.
Anyway, I should go find my own dinner. :)