I've been planning to go to an endurance riding facility that has guided and free trail riding as part of their program to keep their endurance horses in good shape and to pay for their keep. I've heard tons of good about them and I was really excited to go. This facility supposively lets you ride to your ability on either a walk beginner, w-t intermediate, or w-t-c advanced ride on their horses with a guide. So I signed up to go with a few friends a few weeks ago, made sure we were on the w-t-c ride, and went to the farm yesterday.
I really was NOT impressed. The facility was lovely no doubt, and the animals were absolutely gorgeous. Most were full blooded arabians and in great condition, so I have no complains whatsoever about that but I had a less than decent time.
The mare that they gave me was 21 years old but very, very hot and very, very sensative. Fine with me, I ride horses like that all of the time. She tried ignore me and go run over to her friend as soon as I had mounted, and started dancing when she realized I wouldn't let her. So I began circling her to hopefully calm her, but she immediately started thrusting her head in the air and pinning her ears. I eventually got her settled though and standing nicely, but as soon as I asked her to move forward (with a very light squeeze of my calves) she threw a fit, crowhopping in the air five or six times before I got her head turned around. The guide then rushed over to me and scolded me for asking her with my legs to move forward, and told me that their horses are voice trained and that she was very sensative. Apparently she bucks like crazy if you try to touch your legs to her at all, and they wanted me to ride with my legs out in the worst chair seat position I've ever seen. I appologized though and the mare stood quietly until we were supposed to head out.
I realized after a few minutes though, that I was in a group of beginners. Two LITTLE girls, probably 7 or 8, and older woman, two young men who were yanking on their horse's faces, and then my friends and I...who have been riding for years. We had schedualled an advanced ride, and I saw the other advanced riders a bit away from us, warming up. So I went over to the guide and asked if I might be in the wrong group. He just looked at me weird and told me that ofcourse I wasn't, and we would be leaving soon so I should go get in place. I tried to explain that I was supposed to be going on the w-t-c ride but he brushed me and my friends off, so off we went with a bunch of little kids on a beginner ride, 20 minutes after out schedualed time.
I decided to try and make the best of it though, since I'd paid a good $60 for this one hour ride (thinking it would be much more than just a leisurely walk through the woods). It was rather boring though, because we had to continuously stop and fix some kid trying to turn their horses by pulling hard with both reins in the wrong direction. We spend the first 20 minutes of the ride going in circles around a bush learning to 'control our horses.' The guide kept commenting on how great my friends and my riding positions were, saying we looked like we'd been riding before. Duh O_o that's why I was planning to go on the wtc trail!
The trail was beautiful and fairly fun, with lots of hills and a creek to ride through, but it really was not what I was expecting. And about 3/4 the way through another guide joined us to pony one of the little girls who's pony kept trying to eat, and she noticed my friends and I riding and again asked if we had ridden before. I explained to her that we were all avid horse riders and had our own horses, and she proceeded to tell me that they had this wonderful wtc ride for advanced riders and that we should of gone on that one. I told her that we were SUPPOSED to be on that one, and we had been mixed up, and she told us that we should have told someone! I did...twice.
I still liked the ride, but I don't know. It ended up being ok for me and my friends who had ridden before, but I'm wondering about the safety of everyone else. All of the horses- bar one- were VERY high strung and not beginner safe in any way to me. My mare spooked and bolted three times on the one hour trail (I got her under control but could someone who had never ridden before?) one tried to kick another horse when it got too close, and the little appaloosa behind me with a very young girl on it started cantering down a steep hill, lost his footing, tripped, bolted, and starting running off with the girl. There were 11 of us and the guide was so busy with one woman that he didnt notice until I had already sidepassed my mare (thank goodness she was trained to do that!) and grabbed the runaway appy's bridle and spun him around mid canter, with the little girl screaming and crying all the way. Two other horses also spooked on that trail, and the wrangler's horse (an arabian being ridden in a very long shanked TWH bridle bit) practically slow cantered the entire trail.
That doesnt sounds like a beginner safe trail for beginner riders to me. There could have been serious injuries and while I realize that horses have a mind of their own, it seemed downright dangerous to put little kids and older adults on such high strung animals. I'm starting to wonder how they could have possibly gotten such good ratings from my other friends and aquaintances.
I say all of that because I'm wondering if I should call today and 'complain?' Not in a nasty way or anything, but just make sure that they realize that they not only put me on the wrong ride, but I had to catch a girl's runaway horse and many of the horses in our group had been very touchy and hot to see if maybe it was just the weather (it was a beautiful day after many rainy ones) or if that's fairly normal, and to see WHY I was put on the wrong trail and why no one listened when I tried to explain that we were wtc riders. I'd like to give them another chance, the terrain was beautiful as were the horses... and is it too much to ask for maybe a discount or something next time since they messed up so much, or should I just leave it be? I'm really not sure!
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