Getting Back into Horses and Back in the Saddle

Kendall Brown, pony
Kendall Brown riding horseback.

Perhaps you grew up riding horses and have since moved away to the big city? Maybe you always wanted to own a horse, but your family couldn’t afford the expense. Or you went on a horseback riding vacation as a young child, loved being around horses, but work, life and family got in the way? Whatever the case, there is always a way to bring horses back into your life.

Getting back into horses

My husband and I were visiting my family in Carmel, California with the kids. Our daughter was in kindergarten and our son was in a  preschool. During our visit to my parent’s house, I ran across a flyer advertising a playday and auction at the local cooperative preschool. The mention of pony rides for the children caught my attention.
Our ragtag crew of Grandma and Grandpa, our preschooler slung in my husband’s backpack, our butterfly chasing kindergartener sandwiched in the middle of the pack and me bringing up the rear, walked the short distance from my parent’s house to the Bay School. Tucked in a grove of eucalyptus trees, steps from Carmel’s Monastery Beach, stood the little red school house on Highway One with its playground and sounds of the nearby ocean. I dreamed of our children attending this magical school one day.

Horses on the horizon

My pace quickened and I moved to the front of the pack, as the horses came into sight. I had sold my horse before I left for college, making a conscious decision to leave my equestrian life behind and plunge head-first into four years of university experiences.
The ponies were saddled and tied to a hitching post in the shade, their bridles draped around the saddle horn. Teenage girls, dressed in western clothing, cowboy boots and hats, waited to collect our tickets and lift the youngsters into the saddle, chatting to their buckaroo about the name of their pony and how to sit tall in the saddle while they led them, single file, along the sandy beach path.

Pebble Beach Equestrian Center horse
Trail ride through Del Monte Forest with Elliott at Pebble Beach Equestrian Center

Horseback riding vacation

While my husband and grandpa watched the children play games, my mom and I surveyed the silent auction items up for bid. My heart skipped a beat when I found an offer from Pebble Beach Equestrian Center offering horseback riding lessons (English or Western) and a guided trail ride through the Del Monte forest, along 17 Mile Drive and the famous Pebble Beach coastline. I wrote down my bid and circled that table like a hawk, entering a new bid each time someone expressed interested in what I perceived was destined to be my horseback riding vacation.

A weekend of horseback riding

To my delight, I won the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center horseback riding holiday and promptly made an appointment for my first horseback riding lesson in many years. The next day my car was winding along the back roads of Pebble Beach in search of the stables. I was like a giddy school girl anxious for my first day of class. A rush of excitement and nerves flooded my body as I met my lesson horse and swung into the English saddle.
I had shown Western equitation and pleasure in my youth, so why not try something new and take an English riding lesson? I walked, trotted and cantered around the arena as my riding instructor patiently schooled me in posting and remembering lead changes at the canter.
The next day, my legs were tired and sore from engaging muscles that I hadn’t awakened in years, but I had a crazy grin plastered across my face, like a Cheshire cat, and couldn’t wait to get back into horses. On a return visit, I went for a two hour trail ride and knew that I had to find a way to bring horses back into my daily life.

Next week Equine Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown continues with her experiences getting back in the saddle. Article written by and photos courtesy of Nancy D. Brown.