By Katie Treadwell
Quite a few people don’t have the option to bring friends with them to the barn to ride their horse, but if you can, it’s some of the best memories you’ll make with your friends. Many of my ‘school’ friends have never been on a horse, let alone brushed one. I have the luxury of having my barn and horses right in my backyard, and I’m always inviting friends over to come ride.
For some people, this is the only experience they’ll ever have around horses. I always start by showing them how to put on the halter and then I let them walk the horse out to the cross ties, where we go through how to brush and pick the feet. At this point they already have huge smiles on their faces. Then they watch as I wrap the legs and put the saddle on, and they come out with me to lunge before we ride. Normally I’ll get on just to get some of the kinks worked out of my horse before I put my friends on, just because my horse isn’t a lesson horse. Then I’ll get them a helmet and show them how to mount, and once they’re on we’ll figure out their stirrups and go through how to hold the reins and perform basic commands. I’ll walk with them until they get comfortable and then I’ll stand in the middle as they work around me. Often times they’re nervous and my horse can easily pick up on that, so I make sure to always be with them and keep talking so they get comfortable.
Everybody always gets a picture every time they come out to ride, and then they go home and show their parents and everyone else they know. It’s just a really fun time, and it’s pretty cool to see the horse you work with everyday take care of somebody new. It’s even more fun when you can ride at the same time as your friend, and can take pictures together! I love showing new people everything about the horses and they just soak up everything. A few of my friends have even decided they want to get horses now! If you’ve never brought a friend out to the barn with you, I totally recommend inviting them the next time you go! About the Author Katie Treadwell is the Region 10 Youth Director