Sunday, July 17, 2011

Like Riding A Bicycle

 The view from the end of the line.  And no, it's not an illusion - 
I really WAS sitting up that much higher on my horse 
than Princess Yakyak was on hers.

I guess it's true - some things you never forget once you've learned them, like riding a bike - or a horse.  And, like riding a bicycle, I proved this weekend that I could still ride a horse competently and comfortably.  Never mind it's been something like 17 years since I last went riding.  I promised Princess Yakyak that we'd go for a trail ride this summer, since our last try at scheduling a ride was foiled by heavy rain earlier this year.  This week the weather, timing, and payday all aligned perfectly, so we scheduled a one-hour trail ride for Friday.

 Princess Yakyak on Oklahoma, and our guide Carter on Magnum.

We had a great time.  The weather was perfect, and the stable wasn't hard to find south of Syracuse.  The place didn't look like much from the road, but the horses were well cared for and the staff were quite friendly.  We were the only ones signed up for a ride at that time, so we essentially got a private ride, just us and our guide.

I'm not a small person, so I was relieved when they already had saddled up a larger horse before meeting me, and brought him out.  His name was Texas, and he's a 21 year old Belgian draft horse, used for both riding and pulling a cart.  He was a gentle giant, a country gentleman with one speed, an ambling walk.  He was quite tall, but not really broad, so he was actually a very comfortable ride for me.  Thankfully they had a mounting block - I'm not sure I could have mounted him from the ground.

Princess Yakyak was given a small mare named Oklahoma ("Okie" for short).  They were a perfect fit, and PYY was delighted that she could ride without needing a lead rope to a more experienced rider.  The stable requires that kids under 12 wear a helmet, and suggested she bring her bike helmet.   I had asked ahead of time about the trails and explained that while I had some experience, PYY was a complete beginner.  I was assured that the trails we'd take were very easy - gentle hills, woods and fields, all at a walk.  Just a nice, relaxing amble through the countryside - perfect for us.  The guide demonstrated the basics of steering her horse for her, and we were off.

It was Princess Yakyak's first ever solo ride, and it was a long one.  We paid for an hour, but our guide gave us some extra time.  We also got to choose which trails we wanted to pursue, so I let PYY make the decisions.  We rode up through fields and into some woods.  We saw some deer resting in the shadows, and the herd of horses kept by the stable (working, boarded, and rescued).  We had a wonderful time, very laid-back and peaceful.  We took several short breaks on the hills, to enjoy the views and let Texas get a breather.

A view east across the valley.

When we got back to the stable, Princess Yakyak and I fed our hard-working mounts some horse treats.  It was her first time feeding horses, and she was a bit nervous that they'd accidentally bite her, but I showed her how to do it so the horses could lip up the goodies without any effort at all.

 I'd love to go riding there again.  If I had unlimited money, I'd go every week.  I remember being totally horse-crazy at my daughter's age.  It was nice to do this special thing just with her, and I hardly ached at all afterward.  We'll try to go again in the fall at least once. 

My buddy Texas.

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