My name is Harvey the Horse and I’ve just finished my adventure with the Riding for Disabled Association.
Now, I’m a horse (obviously) so I thought I knew a lot about riding and how to interact with other horses. But I was very wrong! I’m quite a small horse, but even the ponies were still a lot bigger than me!
Look how tiny I am in comparison to Spell! Spell was the first horse I met and I liked how white she was.
I liked it less when she suggested she bounced me up in the air off her nose! But I got a good view from where I was.
Moira was the one who was looking after me and she said that looking after other horses isn’t just fun and games and galloping around. She said that you also have to do things like muck out the stables, brush the horses’ coats, make sure all the equipment is clean and check that the horses have enough food and water.
She quickly put me to work moving hay around, which is what the horses like to eat.
It was very heavy! This amount of hay would last me all year! Moira said that enough hay is really important at this time of year, because the cold weather means the horses can’t always go out in the fields and eat the grass.
Some of the horses told me they weren’t afraid of a bit of cold. I can talk horse, you see, so I asked this horse, Mattie. She said eating was a bit difficult through the snow because snow can be pretty hard and frozen!
Misty also wasn’t bothered by the cold, but she had a coat on over her own coat to help keep her warm. She’d obviously been trying to eat some of the grass because she had snow on her nose! She said it kept making her want to sneeze so I decided to head back indoors rather than getting slobbered on.
I caught a ride with Mattie, who asked me if I was too cold to be outside. ‘Of course not!’, I said. I wasn’t going to admit to these bigger horses that I was actually really cold!
Back in the stables, Moira caught me trying to avoid dragging hay again so she told me to go and check the equipment for the riders.
I made sure the stirrups were all safe and working. Stirrups are what you put your feet in when you ride. They were a bit big for me though…
Next I made sure everyone had a helmet. Helmets are super important because every now and then a horse gets spooked or sometimes the rider falls off. It doesn’t happen often, but it means if anything does happen, your head is protected. The green and blue spotty one was my favourite.
Moira had to run off and get some riders started, so she put me in charge of the phone in case anyone rang.
It did ring! So I said ‘Hello, Harvey the Horse speaking’ and wrote down a message. It didn’t make much sense to me, but it was tricky enough answering it with my hooves!
I was raring to go on a ride with one of the horses, but Moira told me to hold my horses and said it wasn’t a good idea to just instantly jump on a horse and ride. That was definitely a recipe for disaster! She pointed to Halle who was riding a horse called Robbie. Halle had never ridden before and she had Isabelle at the front leading and Sarah and Liz making sure she was ok on either side. I think she did a good job!
I reluctantly agreed to do it Moira’s way, she’s my boss after all and safety comes first. And I didn’t want to shift anymore hay! I was a bit worried about riding for the first time, not that I’d admit it, so I asked who would be the calmest horse to ride. Grace told me Robbie was a friendly horse, and that she could help me by leading him if I liked.
Grace was really good at encouraging me- so much so, that I was brave enough to ride Robbie by myself! Grace was nearby though, I wasn’t that brave yet!
I was getting a bit more confident. So Moira suggested I try riding on some different horses with some different riders.
Finn appeared with Mattie. Finn and Mattie reminded me of those police horses you sometimes see- they looked so professional! They definitely weren’t as scary as the police horses though and they gave me some really good tips as to how to ride. Finn said to make sure you look the same way the horse is going so that you don’t accidentally go wonky.
Shandy was the next horse I met, with Charlotte and Bella.
Bella told me to make sure I don’t pull too hard on the reins because it makes the horse anxious and also is one of the ways to tell them to stop! Otherwise you wouldn’t go anywhere!
Charlotte said that horses can tell when you’re a bit worried, so if you act confident then the horse will feel more confident too. This made sense. I tried not to be as worried after that because I didn’t want the horse to feel it.
Connor said that to practise turning the horse, I should use some of the cones you can see in the background. Him and Spell gave me a good demonstration!
The last rider I met was William, who was also riding Robbie.
By now I was feeling pretty confident after the other riders had let me ride with them, so William said we should play a game!
I don’t know how he managed it! He was able to ride, make sure I was ok AND play a game all at the same time. The riders here are all so talented!
Moira came back and asked if I’d had a nice day and I said that I’d learnt a lot and really enjoyed meeting all the riders and horses. Everyone was really friendly and kind- thank you so much for making me so welcome! Although not so much the mucking out… ‘speaking of which,’ Moira said, ‘we’ve got a bit more stable work for you to do if you’re hanging around’. I decided to canter away instead, much to the amusement of the other horses!
Photos shared with permission.