CAS Week 2018

Renaissance College

Category: Horseback riding at Lo Wu Saddle Club

Day 3 – Them Lame Horses

Today it was all about learning how to properly tack up a horse and learning the parts of the bridle and saddle. We started off by braiding the mane and this time I even tried to braid the tail. The muscle located in between the tail made it difficult to braid, but I soon got the hang of it, afterwards we were told to put on the saddle, without any help from the instructors as a means to test our compatibility with the horse as well as good coordination with our partners. Once we were done, we took our horses out of the stables and lined them up next to each other in the paddock. We learnt how to trot. As my partner guided my horse (Star) with the lead, he started jogging, resulting in the horse to follow him and start trotting. At one point my horse became too jumpy and it slightly hurt my pelvic bone. However, we soon regained control of the horse and were able to successfully continue trotting. Once we were all able to fully stay in proper position on the horse, we learnt how to stand up by using the stirrups and the neck piece. After that, we once again trotted, while going up and down with the horse. After lunch we had a vet come to the stables to teach us how to recognise if a horse is ‘lame’, meaning if they are injured. She taught us that if a horse bends his/her head back while trotting, the pain is on the front two legs. She showed us the certain body parts of the horses pointing out which parts are more susceptible to injuries and which are not. The vet also told us what we should do under different circumstances. For instance, if a horse was in slight pain, try resting overnight and if the pain is still there in the morning, we should call a vet. She then brought out one of the horses (Monty) who had a newly discovered injury, and along with her, we all tried to guess which part of his body was in pain. She used a head cap which had a pad as well as a pad placed on the horse’s backside. The pads were connected to her iPad to monitor the changes in movement, which were displayed on a graph. We saw that the graph had more changes on the front right leg, meaning that that was the placed where he was injured. She then felt up and down that leg, looking for a swollen and warm spot, which would be the exact location of his injury and based on that she gave him proper medication and rest instructions to the instructors. We all felt pretty good about ourselves for being able to spot the injury so accurately! After that, we said goodbye to her and the day was over. It was time to go home.

-Amber and Arpita

Day 5 – Bittersweet goodbyes~

The day started like every other, bright and early at 10 am sharp, but there was a melancholy feeling in the air as we knew the week was coming to a close. We grabbed our gear and tacked up the horses, most of us successfully doing it ourselves without assistance. We tacked up our horses, knowing this was the last time we’ll be putting bridles on these horses. It makes you wonder, do they also realize that we’ll never see each other again? What are they thinking, would they miss us? Then one of our horses, Toffee, swung his butt in and slammed Lauren against the wall of his stable and we realised that would be a big fat NOPE!

We tested our balance by riding around the arena while standing up in our stirrups, both in walk and trot. We also tried swinging our legs over and behind the horse to see if they could touch before sliding off the horses with grace and class… which let’s face it, most of us barely made it off without breaking our legs!

After lunch, it was time for a test on the theoretical side of what we learnt in the past week. Our four teams were put against each other in a race where Lucie gave us clues, and we had to figure out which horse she was describing and the item we could only find outside their box. Then we had to write detailed lists of what to do when tacking up your horse and when you might need to send it to the vet. We also had to take apart a bridle and put in back together correctly as quickly as possible – it’s much more complicated than it seems… the straps… so many straps…

Finally, it was time for our barbecue! We had burgers, which we all thought were well-deserved. As we ate, we watched another competition going on in the arena with students from other schools riding the horses through an obstacle course. We silently laughed to ourselves when we realised our horses (who mostly were lazy and slow when we rode them) could jump over hurdles and gallop around with such ease and speed.

Finally, our scores were counted up, and it was time to go back inside for prize giving! Everyone received a ribbon of some kind, and we were surprised that some of the slowest horses got decent places – goes to show everyone, horse or human, has a potential of some kind.

We said goodbye to our instructors and ponies finally; last minute photos were taken, and hugs were given, and off we walked to the bus stop outside the correctional facility. (Yes the saddle club is next to an actual correctional institute; maybe that’s where we were this whole time 😉 )

This entire experience has been gratifying; it was so cool to see the connection the horses had with their trainers. We talked to them like we would to our peers from school, and we each formed a bond with our ponies in some way or another.

Each horse and pony has a personality of its own, and that’s evident when you interact with them in real life and take some time getting to know each one. They’re more than just beasts with beating hearts that consume grass 24/7, which is so obvious when you think about it but when you think of the society and environment we live in, we forget to appreciate these animals we share the earth with and treat them like objects or accessories we keep as toys.

From our experience with horses this week we got to understand why riders have such a profound love with these mysterious and beautiful creatures.

A big thank you to Lucie, Christian, Bobo, Daniella and all the other instructors and people we’ve met this past week! You’ve made this experience a blast, and we will miss you and our ponies dearly!

– Lauren & Emika

Day 4 – Competition Day

On this day, We had to go through an obstacle course as fast as we could in order to win the competition. Before going through the obstacle course, we prepared their horses for the competition with the skills that we had learnt in the previous days with the help of the instructors. Everyone was able to, along with their partners, put the saddles and bridles onto the horses, groom them, comb and braid them, adjust the stirrups, clean their hooves clean their equipment correctly in the correct order.

During the competition, the riders and their partners(which led the horses) rode the horses around mounting blocks in a zigzag line then moved a tennis ball from one barrel to another then dismounted and mounted in different spots and finally halted once they reached the end of the course. Although many of us got through the course, some of us had made a few minor mistakes such as dropping the tennis ball on the floor instead of placing it on the barrel and not putting the equipment on perfectly. Some of the riders were able to trot, while some of them walked the horses past the obstacle course.

Sometimes it was difficult for us to prepare and groom the horses as they were not extremely obedient. Sometimes they would keep on eating while we tried to put their bridles on or decide not to lift their feet when we had to clean their hooves, but eventually most of us learnt how to get the horses to do what we wanted them to do.

– Nathan

We tacked our horses and made sure they were groomed. There was going to be a grooming and obstacle course competition in the afternoon my partner and I braided our horse’s (Anneka) mane and tail. The most challenging task was braiding the tail because the method was hard to learn and do. In the afternoon this day, we lead our horse and ponies out to the arena where the obstacle course was set up. The instructor, Christian, timed how fast we could ride our horses from start to finish. The course consisted of a few cones to lead the horse around, pick objects up while sitting on the saddle and dismounting/mounting.

– Jake

Day 2 – Bonding!

Today it was easier compared to yesterday. Yesterday we were introduced to a lot of new techniques, equipment and terms yesterday. Considering how the majority of us didn’t know the first thing about horses today we had all adjusted quite well. We had all gotten acquainted with our horses and sort of knew the basics on how to get our horses prepared for a riding session. When we first arrived at the stables we groomed our horses and proceeded to get the equipment needed to get our horses prepared for the session. We learned the names of the new equipment were using such as the stirrup, reign, saddle etc…

After we got our horses set and prepared for the horse riding session we proceeded to walk them outside to the horse riding ground. We were in partners and each took turns riding our horse whilst the other partner lead the horse. We all learned how to change our speed when leading a horse and as well as directing it. We also quickly learned how to trot whilst on the horse, after this, we had a lunch break.

After our lunch break, we got our horse groomed and learned how to get them prepared for when they had to participate in a competition. We braided their mane and their tail, this was to show their defined muscles. Once this was finished we looked more in depth of all the horses and how we could identify them through their markings and colour.

Today enabled most of us to become more comfortable around the horses and bond more with the horses that we were assigned to. Hong Kong is a very busy and upbeat city and almost anywhere you go it is extremely crowded. The horse riding stables were located in a very secluded part of Hong Kong, very close towards the edge of China. It’s a very quiet and peaceful place for the horses and allows the horses to grow in an environment that hasn’t manifested into a concrete jungle.

The horses also tend to get spooked easily and it would be very stressful for the horse if they were in an area that was very strident. This experience allowed many of us to spend more of our time away from the city and was given the opportunity perceive hong kong differently, focusing on the more calmer and relaxed side which could reflect on us and we have all felt throughout the experience.

– Tammy & Trisha

Braiding our horses’ manes and tails!

Day 1 – Horsin’ Around

Day 1 – Horsin’ Around

The day has finally come where we get to embark on our CAS trip to Lo Wu Saddle Club. We were all excited, but nervous at the same time. When we arrived at the club, we placed our bags down and met the staff. After that, we were introduced to our horses. Although horses are very big, and quite scary, all of us quickly learned that there is nothing to be afraid of these gentle creatures.

The first thing we learned was how to groom the horse, which allowed us to bond with the animals. Then we learned how to tack up the horse to prepare them for our first riding session. After tacking up, we brought them out onto the field got ready to ride.

Our first riding session was a gentle introduction into riding, we practised our positioning on the horse, walking and turning. We all enjoyed our experience riding the horses, after riding we brought them back to the stable to groom them once again.

– Ronit

At first I was a bit nervous about being in contact with animals this big, but I soon learned that they are very gentle. Today’s experience helped me gain knowledge on how to treat horses, get them ready to ride, clean them, etc. The instructors were very connected to the horses and I aspired to feel as close to the horses as them.

– Riko

The long awaited exciting horse riding CAS week has finally began! I have been excited for this week as I love interacting with animals, especially with those we don’t see everyday. I really hope to learn more about the horses, interact with them, and also take care of them. During the first day, seeing how everyone was so enthusiastic about horses made me even more interested myself.

We started the day off with learning how to tack a horse, along with building a connection with them. We then moved on and started learning how to ride a horse. And finally, we ended the day with learning how to groom them.

The horses there are really friendly. I was a little nervous at the start, and I was scared that they would kick me. But by the end of the day, I was able to go over to any horse and pet them with no fear. Anika, my horse for the week, she is a really calm and friendly horse which I was very pleased with. Working with her was great, I had no trouble tacking her up and riding her.

The workers there were also really nice. They were all trying to help us with their full potential. One of the instructors, Bobo, was really nice and respectful, and we all had a great time with her.

I really enjoyed our first day at Lowu Saddle Club, and I can’t wait for tomorrow!

– Bruce

Getting our helmets fitted!

A derpy horse greets us!

Day 0 – Excitement fills the air!

Written by: Jan and Inesz

It’s finally here! Sooner than we anticipated, the hassles that we call schoolwork were put aside for a week and we were promptly rushing around, looking to and fro for what we should have packed. Although we were all staying in Hong Kong, listening to other people’s excited jabbering over their own CAS trips did not deter us one bit.

Horse riding is an activity we’ve both been wanting to try for a long time. We’ve both tried it out when we were younger as part of the whole tourist experience—but it really wasn’t enough as it was only a one-time thing. Both of us wanted to go beyond that one simple time, and this week would be the answer to that. Now’s the time as ever to learn something new and maybe pick up a new hobby! Although it definitely won’t be the easiest of times Jan and I think it’ll absolutely be a blast. We’re especially looking forward to the competition on the last day as an ideal way to finish off the week and showcase our newly-learned skills. Horse riding certainly sounds romantic, but the aspect of dealing with the manual labor we feel would be challenging (especially since cleaning out the stalls is definitely something we’re not used to).

We’re also going in hoping to deepen the bonds with our fellow peers going. This activity is great for that, especially since so many new students are coming! We haven’t had the opportunity to talk to them much, but hopefully this will also be a great way to make some new friends and unlikely discoveries. Thankfully, unlike the other trips we don’t have to prep much, though we will have to dig through our closets for clothes we don’t mind getting dirty. Travelling is easy since we’ve decided to meet up at University Station so Jan’s mom can pick us up, so we won’t have to worry about the commute situation at all. Here’s to the start of a great experience!

© 2019 CAS Week 2018

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