Confession time. I was one of those girls who was obsessed with horses when I was younger. I mean, really obsessed. To the extent that on one non-uniform day at primary school I actually insisted on wearing my jodhpurs and riding gear.
Oh, the shame.
I spent what felt like years helping out ‘work for rides’ at a local stables, and at the top of every birthday and Christmas list was ‘pony, saddle, bridle’.
Every time, without fail.
Even falling off and concussing myself didn’t put me off. It’s no wonder that eventually my parents relented, and thanks to a school friend who lived on a farm I was finally able to have my own horse. From then on every penny I earned doing paper rounds and all sorts went into an old Hamlet Cigar tin (feels a bit inappropriate these days?!) to pay towards keeping her. Despite adding a broken leg to the injury list I have very fond memories of my farm based horsey youth.
Most stables take children for lessons from the age of 4, but knowing full well quite how expensive horse riding can get I’ve been putting off taking G for lessons. Secretly however I was just waiting for the day I could take her on her first pony ride. I decided that this summer would be the time, and so last weekend we headed over to Reddish Vale Farm for her first pony riding experience, and – hitting two birds with one stone – C’s first time meeting a horse.
I’d never been to Reddish Vale Farm before but had heard good things about it, and liked their approach, where they encourage children to go along for short £2 pony rides on a Sunday afternoon before taking the plunge into ‘proper’ walkouts and eventually lessons.
And the farm made for a great day out too – for £1.50 on top of the entrance fee we got a bucket of carrots which G could take to feed the animals – cows, pigs, donkeys, alpaca, llama, an escapee goat roaming the farmyard and of course C’s first horsey experience, the very lovely – and very large – Shire horse called Kylie.
The pony rides are clearly popular as families started queuing up well before the advertised time. We dutifully took our place in the queue and waited our turn as G got more and more excited and C indulged in her latest ‘hobby’ of staring at people stood close by!
G took the pony ride in her stride and enjoyed every minute. Coupled with a yummy lunch in the cafe, a play on the bouncy castle and playground, and finishing off with the obligatory ice cream, it’s no wonder that G now claims to enjoy horse riding as much as her mother.
With G’s 5th (5th!!) birthday coming up, I wonder how long it will be before I have to start fending off the requests for ‘pony, saddle, bridle’?