You see the horses out in the paddocks, frisking and running. You see the elegant riders on their shiny horses moving in such perfect harmony. You have passed that barn so many times and every time you say to yourself "One day I am going to stop in and check it out."
Well, I am here to tell you don't keep putting it off! Don't say I am too old or I am too busy or I don't think I can afford it!
There are women I know who are in their 70's who started riding only in the last few years who own horses and ride every day. There many options out there such as weekly lesson programs, leasing and volunteering a local stable.
There are several barns in Huntington that will get you started on your equestrian journey. Stanhope Stables , Winding Hill Stable, Jumper's Creek, Sweet Hills Equestrain Center, Thomas School of Horsemanship, Indian Head Ranch and the Lloyd Harbor Equestrian Center all offer lessons to beginner riders of ALL ages.
Horses are a big part of the Huntington charm. Between the awesomeness of the Village, the close availability of barns and places to ride and the easy access to the train station it was the perfect choice for my family to live here.
You may not realize it but surrounding West Hills Park and Caumsett Park are many homes with a horse or two or more in the backyard! This is true for many parks on Long Island such as Bydenburg and Connetquat.
Horses are not just for the wealthy. It is a lifestyle that many average Huntingtonians choose for all the benefits you receive in return. Besides the exercise you get riding (NO, the horse most assuredly does NOT do all the work!), there is plenty to be had getting your horse from the paddock, grooming him, tacking him up and cleaning his stall. Not that a beginner would be asked to do that at first!
Horses teach everyone the value of hard work, patience, perseverance, courage, empathy and kindness. Although they don't wag their tail and bark or purr, they are very much a companion animal as much as they can be a partner in sport. They are affectionate, loyal, smart, forgiving and sometimes funny!
One the biggest things that appeals to me about horses is that I never stop learning. There is such a wealth of knowledge that dates back thousands of years that is waiting for me to discover. It is not just about how to ride or how to care for a horse but the role horses played in history or how a issue I encounter was the very same one a Greek solider named Xenophon , alive around 430 B.C., dealt with.
Another wonderful aspect of horses is that, like people, they each have their own distinct personality. Training horses is very much about developing a partnership. You can't force a horse to do something. You have to teach it that what you want it to do can be fun and is safe. Some horses are fast learners, some are slow. Some are nervous and insecure, others are confident and brave. All of them try hard to please, just like a good dog. And like dogs and people some come with emotional and physical baggage. To me, these are the ones who maybe harder to train but are the most fulfilling when they do come around.
So the next time you drive through West Hills or Caumsett Park and you see a horse, slow WAY down and come in and stop by. It will be well worth your time!