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Best of Canberra – horse riding

By Gabrielle Kneipp - 14 December 2015 0

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Q. What’s a horse’s favorite sport?
A. Stable tennis.

Q. What do you give a sick horse?
A: Cough stirrup.

A horse walks into a bar, and the bartender asks, “Why the long face?”

Just a little hilarity to start the week – I’ll let you get back up on your chair.

This weekend I took to the saddle and tried out two local horse riding stables: Gooromon Park Riding Centre and Forrest Park Riding School. Thank goodness my hay fever was in check, being outdoors with the flies and dust. NOT! But I persisted and thoroughly enjoyed my time riding.

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On Saturday afternoon I trekked out to Gooromon Park in Hall. The homestead is situated amongst the fields of the wine-growing region, what’s not to like about it?

It was a bit hectic when I first arrived but quickly check in, located boots, helmet and Liberty, my horse saddled up and ready to go, and taken into a riding ring to commence my lesson.

I’m usually a pretty impatient person, so of course I wanted to be able to immediately lean into a gallop within the first two minutes of mounting a horse. But I soon learnt there is a lot more involved.

My instructor had control of the horse on a long rein, which allowed me to concentrate on staying on the horse and co-ordinating our movements. I was pleased that they taught me how to sit properly to suit the horse’s welfare as well as for my own good. I started off at a slow walking pace and was given time to feel comfortable on the horse. As my confidence grew I was allowed to go a little faster at a trot and spent the rest of the lesson learning how to ride in sync with the stride. Sit-up, sit-up, sit-up. Sit up, sit-up, sit-up.

“And people complain that horse riding isn’t a sport,” my instructor scoffed. I have to agree with her. There is certainly a lot more involved than just sitting on a horse, not least of which is discovering a whole new use for your thighs – you need to engage them to stay on! The lesson quickly came to an end although I was eager for more.

There is a lovely old café next to the school. Unfortunately, it is currently closed due to renovations so I wasn’t able to try it out, but it would be the perfect way to enjoy afternoon tea and cool down after a lesson.

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They say that horse riding makes you realise muscles you didn’t know you had. I found this to be very true waking up Sunday morning. But, to continue with the clichés, you have to get back into the saddle and so I dragged my aches and pains back into the saddle for more. I’m very glad I did.

This time I headed to Forrest Park for a trail ride around Stromlo. Once again locating boots (which was a bit of a guessing game; find the left one here and the right one over there) and a helmet, we went out to the yard to find our horses. This time I had Johnny.

The trail ride was very relaxing and didn’t require experience from the rider as the horses were very instinctual and didn’t require much guidance. Whilst slow going, it was lovely to just continue familiarity and being comfortable on the horse. When we came to long, straight sections we were able to try out a trot for a little while and the more experienced riders changed to a canter.

It wasn’t a challenging ride at all, so if you are an absolute beginner you can feel safe trying it out.

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I enjoyed the trail ride at Forrest Park as it enables you to get out of the riding ring and on the path. For those who don’t mind driving a bit further, I most enjoyed Gooromon Park as it is a lovely area to spend time at and so giving it the Best of Canberra tick of approval.

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