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