Horse-riding was my sport of choice as a young girl. I received my first horse, Wally, when I was 8 and continued to ride right until I left home. It kept me grounded, nurtured my competitive streak and helped me develop a sense of responsibility.
Living in the city makes introducing a pony to our family a little more difficult than it was for my parents. You certainly can’t keep one on a city block. The next best thing was to source a stable where we could organise a ride or two.
I had visions of the kids riding through New York’s Central Park. I’m not sure where this particular idea came from, but why not roll with your dreams? As New York wasn’t actually on the horizon and the kids were the right age to start, I looked locally and discovered that there is an entire stable in Sydney at Centennial Park (right next to the Entertainment Quarter). Brilliant, right?
The stables house a number if different riding groups. How were we going to choose? A quick google search of feedback and recommendations for the stables made up our mind.
We booked a week in advance for a pony led ride through Papillon Stables – www.papillonriding.com.au. Having never ridden before I thought this would be the perfect introduction before we launched into actual lesions. Both Master R and Miss N were keen to try and even brought along their cousin.
On arrival we were herded into the tack room to source a helmet and boots. There are a bevy of sizes ensuring that the equipment fits and is safe. I have a firm rule about always wearing a helmet when on a horse after experiencing a number of falls myself, so this really eased my apprehension about this exercise and it was all smiled from this point forward.
Learning how to mount their pony from the correct side and how to hold the reins (imagine you’re holding a baby chick. Not too tight. Not too loose) was actually fun. The kids learned that squeezing their thighs would work just as well as kicking. In no time they were ready to go.
The ride took us across a busy road which didn’t fuss our “bucket-proof” ponies despite the traffic. We entered Centennial Park and began walking around the track. There was no trotting, cantering or galloping for us being our first go and all.
Walking one way for around 15 minutes gave the kids time to become comfortable with the gait and become familiar with the horse. On the way back the kids wanted to go faster. Faster! Of course we didn’t indulge this whim – they’re just not ready. By the time we returned to the stables they were asking to go again. Who knew a lazy walk on a horse in Centennial Park could be so much fun!
Pony led rides start at 15 minutes for small kids and can be extended to 30 minutes as their confidence increases. The 30 minute ride will cost you $65.00 per horse. When they become more experienced you can extend the experience to private lessons for $85.00.