I am not a fan of horse riding yet this is the second time I have chosen to participate in a sight seeing activity that involved one. The first time was due to no choice and since it left a good impression, this second time was by choice.
It was a beautiful morning with no signs of predicted rain. We arrived at Blazing Saddles (Airey's Inlet) after a 90 minute drive along Great Ocean Road. We checked in at the reception and were given forms to fill up - a questionnaire (to access your riding skill level which in turn will decide the horse you will ride, so best not to lie) and indemnity form. With that and payment out of the way, we were asked to select a pair of riding boots and a helmet for use during the ride.
|Helmets were labelled according to size - pea head (S), pickle head (M),|
melon head (L), mega melon head (XL).
Once that was sorted, we were assigned and introduced to our horses. It is important you remember your horse's name because from then on, that is your name. The ride began soon after. It was a small group that morning, eight in total. Four were experienced riders (including Mr H), 2 not experienced (1 seemed an expert compared to the other. You will know why later), leader/teacher and her assistant.
|My ride and I did not get on to a good start - I could not remember his name.|
The 1 hour 15 minute scenic bush ride is categorised as beginner's bush ride and involved trotting and cantering. The trail was either muddy, gravel-ly (is there even such a word?) and hilly which made me thankful I was not covering this trail on foot! We also had to contend with other challenges like ducking under tree branches or your horse wanting to stop and eat wild grass at every chance it can. These also made galloping somewhat impossible. That did not stop a rider from falling off her horse tho!
Remember the inexperienced rider I mentioned earlier? She was nervous from the start and it was unfortunate she got a "naughty" horse. He probably sensed her fear and messed around with her whenever possible. At a particularly tight curve, her horse suddenly moved forward with a start. In trying to avoid a branch, she lost her seating causing her to lean sideways. She would have remained in the saddle if not for the muddy ground. Before she could regain her position, her horse lost his footing and she landed head first. You could hear a pin drop. We remained in the saddle waiting for her to move while the teacher/leader raced towards her. After what seemed like eternity, she stood up and tried to regain balance while checking her attire (poor lady, she was half covered in mud). After an assessment, the rider felt she was able to continue with us and we moved on. I was extra nice to my horse from then on.. just in case he had any ideas to unseat me.
We finally reached the top of the hill. The better riders were allowed to canter up the hill. They gave us non experienced riders a head start too (perhaps so our horses would not join in the canter like their friends).
The view that greeted us left us speechless. With clear blue skies, we could see as far the eyes could go. I recognised the Otway Lighthouse from its red rooftop. I did not bother to take that many photos as my iPhone camera and the cameraman (me) would not do justice to the view. You just had to appreciate it with your own eyes.
|Can you spot the Cape Otway Lighthouse?|
After a few more moments, we made our way back to the stables via the same path we came. It was an incident free ride back and everyone made it without falling off. After "parking" my horse and tying him to his post, I patted his neck and said goodbye. He barely looked at me while munching his food.
|Final farewell before we head back to the stables.|
If you asked me if sight seeing on horse back is a good idea (especially after the horror story above), I would say yes. Despite the risks, there are benefits too.
What are the benefits?
- You can explore a wider area in a shorter time span (compared to walking).
- You have access to areas not easily accessible on foot (e.g. bush trails, hill top views).
- You get to rest your legs (kind off).
- You get a horse's eye view of things.
- It is fun (especially when you stay on your horse)
What are the risks?
- You might not like your horse.
- Your horse might not like you.
- You might fall off your horse and/or get injured.
For more information on Blazing Saddles, go to http://bstr.bidserver.com.au/