Horseback Riding . . . Vicariously 8/17/2010

You know I love horses.  You know I’d love to ride horses.  You know I can’t because of a pesky little (actually big) neck problem that has my orthopedic surgeon restricting anything that might “jolt” my neck and back – like getting bucked off a horse (dang it).  So, like some of you who live the Island experience through this blog, last week I lived the riding experience through a new friend on the Island.  She took an adult riding class for beginners – and I tagged along.

I met Mary about two weeks after we arrived on the island this spring.  I was walking past the Grand and heard someone say, “Bree?”  I turned, and a young woman with  a beautiful smile was walking toward me.  She introduced herself and told me that she followed my blog and was hoping to meet me this year.  Mary is the Director of Grounds & Golf at the Grand Hotel, and she and I have chatted several times over the summer.

During the Festival of the Horse, Mary and I talked about the Adult Riding Lessons offered by the Mackinac Horsemen’s Association.  She shares a love of horses with me, and wanted to learn to ride.  I told her my “neck” story and asked her to let me know if she took the lessons.  I wanted to come watch and take pictures (with her permission, of course). 

So last week I walked over to Turtle Park to watch Mary’s first lesson.  There were four women taking the classes offered by Lisa Eckhardt, a summer resident on Mackinac Island for the last seven years.  Lisa has been training riders for over 20 years and has experience in western pleasure, reining, working cow horse, English equitation, dressage and driving.

I think I was more nervous than Mary. 

I stood and watched and listened as Lisa E. (in black) introduced the students to the horses they would be riding. That's Mary in the middle in the blue shirt.

Lisa B. had brought over two Friesians for the students to ride. I guess you know how jealous I am!

The first part of the lesson was learning all the parts of a horse. I was lost right after mane and tail. Next was learning how to brush the horse. Each student took a turn.

The horse really enjoyed all the attention. After all, getting brushed by four women must have felt like horsie Heaven!

Next the ladies learned about caring for the horse's hoofs - a very important lesson. Any kind of hoof irritation can cause lameness.

After a lesson in saddling, the ladies moved on to putting on the bridle. Mary learned to "feed" the bit into the horse's mouth, then lift the bridle over its ears. Talk about a patient horse! This one stood while the bridle was "fed" and removed by four students!

Finally, the best part - getting on the horse! Each lady used the mounting steps (these were tall horses). Mary had a little trouble because her shoes were a little to wide for the tiny English stirrups, but soon she was in the saddle. On a Friesian. I want to just cry.

And just like that - Mary was riding!

And doing it quite well - way to go, Mary!

See that smile!

Thanks, Mary, for allowing me to “ride” along with you.   Hmmm . . . where’s the number for my bone doctor?  I wonder if I could just SIT on a Friesian????


7 thoughts on “Horseback Riding . . . Vicariously 8/17/2010

  1. Thank you, Brenda, for taking the time to come out and watch! It was alot of fun.

    I am really looking forward to your ‘flower lesson’ today!! See you soon….

  2. What a beautiful horse to learn how to ride on! The last time I rode a horse was when I was a teenager, but I think I would take the chance just to sit on him. But then I am afraid of heights…lol

    Have a great day Brenda!

  3. Hooray for you Mary!! Those horses are beautiful and you look like so comfortable and natural – like you have been riding all your life. Thanks Brenda for taking such wonderful pictures! Happy Tuesday!!

  4. Oh my…I am just so jealous…my dream come ride a Friesian!! WTG Mary! And thank you Bree for the wonderful blog today!

  5. CONGRATULATIONS, Mary! As Scarlett O’Hara famously uttered: “I am pea green with envy”! Friesians are such elegant, beautiful creatures. Bree … I, too, long to ride, but like you, my back and neck were injured two years ago when I was rear-ended and pushed into the car in front of me, giving my back and neck a ‘double whammy’. I cannot tolerate the motion of horses. Sadly. That doesn’t preclude us from enjoying horses vicariously, however! Thank you for sharing Mary’s riding lessons with us.

  6. I just can’t imagine being that close to a Friesian. Kind of like standing next to the great-and-wonderful OZ. I am so jealous. Mary will be dreaming of horses for many years to come. You are very obedient….I think I would wrap myself in a cast of ace bandages and go for it against Dr. orders. As Charlie says, “What do Dr’s know?!”.

  7. Thanks Bree for sharing this blog today and for all the great pics! I’m so jealous. Way to go Mary! Looks like a wonderful first lesson:) I never knew they incorporated so much info on the actual horse before setting out on a ride…love that!

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