I’ve never been horseback riding before and have always wanted to try. A friend in the Mon Sheong group suggested to go for an outing and we did! After a satisfying breakfast at The Fickle Pickle, we walked into the property of Churchill Chimes for our one-hour introductory lesson.
There were ten of us which made things a little confusing for the girls in charge of placing us with horses. To make it easier, we split into two groups so that one group could ride first and next the second group would have their turn. We chose a helmet that would fit our uniquely shaped heads, signed the waiver, and then got paired with a buddy and a horse. Gen and I were paired up with Lazar the horse. He was a very calm horse; the oldest horse they had! They told us that they always let beginners ride Lazar since he knows when to stop if he feels that his rider is about to fall. That was very reassuring for me to know! The last thing I wanted was to fall off from a horse…!
I decided to be in the group that would ride first on the horse. Since we were the first and group of the day for the riding centre, we got to lead the horses into the riding arena. Although the sun was out and the weather had significantly warmed up from when we first arrived on the property, it was still not warm enough to ride outside.
I led Lazar with the reins with one hand. After a bit of a wait and adjusting the straps on the saddle to make sure that the length was not too long for my legs, I got up on Lazar using a stepping block and held on tightly to the reins. I learned that I had to keep my heels down all the time in the stirrups.
We walked around in a circle and it took a little bit of time to get used to a moving body beneath my seat lol. This was the first time that I was riding on animal of any sort and it felt a little strange. Before long, I got the hang of it. I learned the basic horse “commands” — saying “whoa” and pulling on the reins to have the horse stop, tugging on the left rein to go left, tugging on the right rein to go right, and if passing a horse on the inside, to say “passing” to let the other rider know.
When it came to having the horse trot, I had a bit of trouble with this. In order to get the horse to trot, you’re supposed to squeeze your thighs so that each leg digs into the horse’s abdomen… first of all, I had trouble squeezing so that my feet would really dig into the horse. It was hard! Second, my dear horse Lazar would trot for a couple of minutes and then slow to a walk. I actually was fine with this because a few moments after he started to trot, I felt like I was going to fall off the horse! I wish there were seat belts on a horse, as silly as it is to say lol. I was glad when he slowed down since I didn’t like trotting very much. Lastly, I thought it was kind of sad that I would have to cause pain to a horse in order to get him to trot/run at a faster pace. 😦 I really liked it when the horse was walking instead. It was nice and comfortable and enjoyable.
In addition to walking around the riding arena, we let the horse walk through poles on the ground and weave between pylons. Lazar, being the experienced horse he is, knew exactly how to do it even without me really guiding him.
Soon, our first hour was up and we got off our horses. It was time for the other group to take their turns on the horses.
After Jen and I found the restroom to use, we had the chance to feed a lone horse that was still in the stall — although he was in Daisy’s stable, he was actually Sundance. Jen fed him a carrot while I fed him an apple. It was fun! I saw how earlier, Jen had fed Daisy an apple and the eaten bits flew all over the place including a lot of horse spit that covered the ground. When I fed Sundance, I was happy to find out that he was a clean eater. I got close to him, took a picture with him, told him what I was going to feed him, and asked him if he was ready for an apple. He was still chewing through Jen’s carrot in his mouth, so I waited until I brought forth the apple to his mouth. To my pleasant surprise, he was able to chomp down half of the apple and chew before eating the rest in two bites. YAY! I didn’t get my hand eaten by a horse! It was fun!
Then, as Jen and I were about to head back into the riding arena to watch the others ride their horses, two girls from the centre asked us if we wanted a tour of the farm and property. Sure! We did! So we went out to look at the chickens, fed the chickens grass, saw more horses (including some privately owned ones) on the property, including the biggest one that was only less than 5 years old, and also saw and fed some sheep! I learned that some of their horses stay outside all year-round and only come into the stables to eat breakfast. Apparently they get little coats over them if their owner buys it for them, but otherwise they’re left outside all year-round no matter the weather. Wow! That’s amazing. How can we as humans complain about the frigid Canadian winters if those poor animals have to live through them year after year after year? They don’t have any heat outside. Only a little blanket if they’re lucky to keep them warm.
I found the sheep to be really funny. One of them is called Freckles while the other sheep had a name that I couldn’t pronounce nor remember. It was funny to know that both of the sheep had each had lambs a couple of years ago… and when asked what happened to the lambs, the girls told us that the owner ate them. LOL. I didn’t expect that answer. Poor sheep… having their babies eaten by the one who feeds them. Kind of ironic actually. They were really curious and came up to us. I pet the one whose name I couldn’t remember and her wool was SO interesting — it felt like a mash of fur that was neither soft nor hard. I don’t know how to describe it actually.
After that, we finally returned back to the riding arena where our friends were. We were there right on time since they were just ending their hour-long lesson. It totally didn’t feel that we had been gone for an hour, but it worked out perfectly. We paid just $25 for the lesson as a group — so completely worth it! I didn’t expect it to be so cheap since the original price was supposed to be $50/hour for an intro lesson.
Despite me not enjoying the trotting so much, I really enjoyed this horseback riding experience. It would have been very fun to have ridden outdoors on a sunny and warmer day, but it was nice that the indoor riding area had a lot of space and also didn’t stink at all. I loved feeding all of the animals and it’s so true that horses are such gentle beasts. Thanks for the experience, Churchill Chimes! 🙂