This August Phil and I celebrated our two year wedding anniversary! Last summer was a bit of a blur since work was extremely busy so this summer we’ve made sure to prioritize doing fun adventures every chance we get. To properly celebrate this year, Phil surprised me with horseback riding! I’ve been talking about going horseback riding for years so when I learned that we’d be riding horses near the beautifully scenic Seneca Lake, I was ecstatic.
We hit some traffic on the way there so it ended up taking us 1.5 hours to get to Painted Bar Stables. When walking in we quickly realized that the owner, and one of our tour guides for the day, was witty and hilarious. She took our group of 10 through a quick lesson on riding but it actually made Phil and I more nervous. Neither of us had ever ridden a horse before! I was trying to understand how to hold the reigns but then learned our posture had to be straight, and then that you need to look ahead towards you desired path since the horse can feel every shift in your weight. The guide must have sense Phil’s nerves because when assigning horses she picked Pick first and gave him the horse that would be directly behind her for the day ha! Phil was assigned Duchess and I had Scotch.
Going up to introduce myself to Scotch I tried to steady my nerves since I knew she would be able to sense if I was nervous. She was so calm and beautiful I loved getting to pet her and chit chat with her. Standing next to her I couldn’t believe how big she was! We learned that horses eat multiple meals a day (first lunch, second lunch, etc.) and then poop up to 50 pounds a day.
We walked each of our horses outside and used steps to get up on our saddles. Once we were up on our horses we sat for a minute getting further instruction and acclimating ourselves. We also learned that pulling back on the reigns, but not continuing to pull, means “stop” to the horse. They use their heads like humans use their arms while walking so stopping their head motion effectively stops them from moving!
Before we knew it, we were winding through the trail. Riding Scotch actually felt pretty intuitive. She would inch a bit farther to the sides of the path so I had lots of leaves and twigs hitting me but I’m assuming that was more a product of my riding than it was on Scotch. If you go horseback riding and are inexperienced like I am, I recommend wearing jeans or thick pants for this exact reason. Our path started in an open field and then we worked our way through thick woods. We passed many streams and foliage and took a winding path up and downhills. I hadn’t realized that riding hills was challenging and exhilarating! Going up a hill the horse needs to pick up speed a bit and then I needed to sit forward and loosen the reigns. Going downhill I sat back but ensured that my butt was firmly planted on the saddle.
We broke at one point to let the horses drink out of one of the streams. It was a pinch-me moment. Well into our ride we started testing our abilities by moving from walking to a trot. All I can say is wow! I was inexperienced so I was bouncing all over that horse as we picked up speed. It wasn’t like in the movies with the steady person guiding the horse, that’s for sure. After our two-hour-long ride, our guide told us that she had taken us on a more challenging path. Everyone in our group had been strong beginner riders so she took us the harder path which was fun hearing.
After dismounting and walking our horses back to the stable it was amazing to see the contrast between my comfort level with Scotch from the beginning of the day to the end. I felt like we had become friends.
It was an incredible day and truly so much fun. I loved that we did something new and challenging together as a way to celebrate our anniversary! It’s an experience we certainly won’t forget.