SGC Admin: Aww the joy of gifts that go on well past the gift giving day… 🙂 This past Christmas, our son presented me with such a gift in the form of 8 horse riding lessons for the spring. 🙂

I love horses and have been lucky enough to experience a couple of  “horse trial” rides in the past, however I am far from an expert on either riding or horses (loving something doesn’t make you an expert on it) ;)… I find horses to be beautiful animals, they are also very intelligent animals. I mean they have to be to figure out what someone sitting on their back wants them to do, when they can’t even see them… !! However, they are also bigger and faster than me, and truth be told, they scare me, if just a little. 🙂 But by the end of my 8 lessons I must say I feel much more comfortable around them, which is awesome because it means I can love them more… (if that’s possible) 😉

My horse riding lessons took place at Stonewood Riding Academy located in Pickering, Ontario. An absolutely fabulous facility with the most awesome horses and dedicated, hard-working staff. 

copyright: Greta McKenzie Photos

I was fairly nervous going in for my first lesson, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was excited all the same.. 🙂 The moment I walked into the Barn, I was impressed… it’s very clean, beautifully built and laid out, with each horse in comfortable stalls. It didn’t even smell bad… ;)… 

Right away there was a volunteer ready to assist me… and I was so surprised to be involved with all the aspects of getting “my” horse ready to ride… brushing, saddling and bridling… 🙂 “My” 1st horse was Penny, a beautiful BIG mare… I gasped when i saw her and realized I was going to be getting on her back… (how, was the question in my mind at the time) 🙂 … I would soon find out there is a “mounting block” to assist you on getting on your horse… (whew) and Penny, bless her was so patient and very well-behaved… :).

Throughout my 8 lessons, there was always someone to help me get my horse ready or to “dress” my horse down afterward, which was valuable for me, as the arthritis in my hands tricks me sometimes, making it difficult for me to do such tasks as pulling the girth tight…  the girls were always, always so very patient and kind. 

Penny the horse
copyright: Greta Mckenzie Photos

Tamika Koonings was my instructor, (Click & Scroll down the Stonewood page to view her bio) she amazed me with her extensive knowledge and her ability to remember all of our names, along with the names and character traits of the horses we were riding… Tamika, will not give up on you, she will encourage you to keep trying, there is never a time when you feel you can’t do something, because Tamika’s faith in you pushes you into doing your absolute best… She is a lovely, caring, patient and talented lady and an awesome instructor. 

I was nervous, scared, and felt a little silly in the beginning about being there, even though it had been a dream of mine for sooo many years to learn how to ride, I felt I was too old to be doing such things… But I was wrong… you are never too old to try something, as long as your body is able and your mind is willing… but most important of all is to find the place and the people to help you try, to push you gently beyond your comfort zone and to encourage and accept you. And that is exactly what I found at Stonewood…. 

I ended up spending most of my lessons with Nemo a darling fella who enjoys napping, I would stroke him as we waited in the middle of the ring for all to assemble, and would watch as his lovely eyes slowly closed…… 🙂 oh I fell in love with this guy, he soon caught on to the fact that he had a “sucker” on his back… 🙂 I wasn’t very good at getting him to trot,… Tamika had to encourage me to kick as I felt awful about kicking Nemo, even though I understand how rider & horse communicate with signals and body language… I did get better at it, but still could only kick with my right leg, just couldn’t get both legs to kick at the same time, hahaha… it was all good in the end, as we did get Nemo trotting, Tamika worked hard to keep me at it and in the End Nemo must have felt bad and decided to help me out… 🙂 Oh it was such fun when we did trot ..It was also a good tummy workout … 

copyright: Greta McKenzie Photos

The whole experience was wonderful, I walked out of that barn after each lessons feeling so happy and care free… I felt lighter in my step and at peace with myself for finally experiencing the joy of being around and understanding these magnificent creatures a little bit more… I am pleased with myself for hanging in and not letting fear get the better of me, and I am grateful for the people I met in my group and the wonderful teachings of Tamika.. 🙂 

With your group lessons at Stonewood Academy you experience the following…

  • How to brush your horse
  • How to girth your horse
  • How to saddle your horse
  • How to set your stirrup
  • You learn how to: Hold your reigns, where to put your boots in your stirrup, what is posting, what is a 2 point, how to dismount safely, safety in the ring and so much more… 
  • You can bring in treats for the horses and connect with them… 🙂 they will love you for an apple or a carrot… 🙂 

Thank you Nemo and Penny for allowing me to ride you and connect with you. 🙂 Thank you Tamika for your patience and care, Thank you to the girls working and volunteering, you all do a fabulous job and it’s easy to see that everyone at Stonewood puts the horse’s first… they are loved and cared for and that makes my heart grow… oh and of course thank you to our Son for an absolutely thoughtful and memorial gift… xo 

copyright Greta McKenzie Photos

Check out the following links for more information or to find a groupon deal for these lessons.

Contact SGC @ 🙂 

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