As Gemma and I set off to Hampshire for our very exciting horse riding lesson, we realised this would be our last experience visit together. We wanted to make it extra special, and luckily, we were spending the afternoon with Quob Stables so we knew we were in for a fun experience!
The large signs on the main road made our journey a lot easier, and the easily accessible car park was right outside the Hampshire venue. We passed a few adorable horses as we wandered through the yard into the reception, and we couldn’t wait to jump in the saddle ourselves! The reception area overlooks the training grounds, so you can watch lessons take place whilst enjoying some delicious food or drink from the café. Lunch is included in our introductory lesson gift package, which worked perfectly for our hungry stomachs. The menu had a number of options, and we had trouble deciding, but in the end I had to go for the beef burger. Gemma decided on a chicken burger, and both came out piled high with fries, salad for the burgers, and coleslaw. Yum!
Our instructor then came into the reception area to collect us ready for our horse lesson. Her friendly smile and welcoming nature immediately calmed our nerves (neither of us had ridden horses since we were a lot younger.). We were then led into the mechanical horse room where - you guessed it - a mechanical horse was standing. It was my turn first. A little nervously, I climbed onto the horse and put my boot into the stirrups. Before I knew it, I was off! The mechanical horse was simulating the experience of riding the real thing. I adjusted my seating in the saddle so I was more comfortable, and held onto the reigns. It was now onto a trot. I found this a little more difficult, and Gemma could not hold in her laughter. I was all over the place - as the horse was up, I was down and so on. After a short while, I eventually got into the rhythm, and was confident to begin a canter… I was surprisingly better at this, sitting back into the saddle whilst the horse moved forward and back. Gemma was the opposite of me: great at trotting and standing in the saddle, but struggled with the canter a little more. The screen in front of the mechanical horse told us where in the saddle we were sitting, how our core strength was, and whether we were more likely to lean to the left or right. This was an incredibly useful way for us both to advance our basic skills.
The mechanical horse was the perfect introduction to horse riding, and it was now time to mount our real horses. We watched as Hugo and Benson were tacked up and walked to an indoor arena. Our instructor thought a smaller space would be better due to us being a little nervous and working at beginner level. After adjusting our stirrups to the correct length, one at a time we walked to the mounting block. We put our left foot into the stirrup, and swung our right leg over the horse while holding the reins. (You should always mount your horse from the left-hand side.) Once we were both on, we walked around the arena. You would have thought this would be the easy part, but my horse Benson spotted a fresh bale of hay and made a detour! Of course, I had the hungry horse... We then performed a couple of exercises to increase our confidence on the horses, including riding without our feet in the stirrups, and holding one arm out. Gemma had a stubborn horse who wouldn’t do as she instructed but would instead copy the mischievous Benson. Next, the time had come for us to put our rising trot into practice. We could see Gemma remembering how to trot the more time she spent on the horse, having had lessons when she was younger. After half an hour of riding our horses, we dismounted and had some pictures with our new friends.
We had a brilliant time at the stables and would recommend this experience to anyone wanting to learn how to ride a horse (…or laugh at their friend trying to ride a mechanical one!)
We’d like to say a big thank you to all the staff at Quob Stables Equestrian Centre for making our final Experience Days supplier visit so memorable.