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My Dad has always said that there’s a certain confidence that comes with horse riding. Perhaps it’s to do with the experience of regularly handling large animals, or the level of commitment required or maybe it’s just the relationships you build. Either way I’ve never ridden a horse myself and have always been a little wary of them. (I think this stems from a couple of close shaves with donkeys in childhood!)
As part of our collaboration with Great British Racing, Ben, Chloe and Amy had their first riding lesson at a local stable this afternoon – this was going to go one of two ways – they’d either hate it or I’d find myself trying to work out how I could afford three lots of horse riding lessons every week…
Before we arrived at our local riding stables where we had a lesson booked (at a cost of £15 per child for half an hour) – I had talked to Ben, Chloe and Amy about how important it was that they were sensible and that they listened carefully to the instructor to make sure they were safe and that they didn’t upset the horses. They were each given helmets to wear and taken to their horses.
Amy’s horse was called Bronte, Chloe was called Buttons and Ben’s horse was called Minnie.
They were each taught to mount their horse, how to sit properly and how to hold the reins (like two ice cream cones in case you were wondering) and then they were led off out of sight for about 20 minutes leaving me wondering how they were getting on and what they were doing!
They’ve since told me that what they were doing was having a walk down a little path down the side of a nearby country park – I thought this was pretty brave for a first lesson but they all said it was not really any different to riding a donkey! Chloe tells me they were taught how to tell the horse to stop and start and what position to be in when they were going up and down hill.
When they came back to the riding school they were taken into an arena where they walked around the perimeter and then trotted the length of it! All three children looked very serious but seemed to be enjoying themselves!
The first thing Chloe said to me after her horse riding lessons was, “Mum can I go again?” – she did however say she doesn’t want to be a jockey like the ones we saw at Chester Races, she just wants to “trot about and stuff“!
If, like me, you’d rather watch the horses than ride them, it’s worth knowing that as part of Great British Racing’s ‘Under 18s Race Free’ initiative, there are 60 racecourses throughout Great Britain where under 18s are admitted free of charge to the vast majority of fixtures throughout the year, when accompanied by a paying adult. Throughout the summer holidays there are more than 200 fixtures up and down the country, including 50 special family days like the one we experienced at Chester Races – these will have additional activities put on for families and young people so are definitely worth keeping an eye out for!