Phil shares how she surprised her daughter, on her sixth birthday.
It was obvious that the plastic Barbie horse wasn’t cutting it any longer, so for her sixth birthday we decided to surprise our daughter with an escorted trail ride. Only 45 minutes from Sydney, the riding school shares grounds with a cafe, winery and historic farm stay – so enough to keep the whole family occupied.
After being kitted out with the appropriate headgear, we were given our horses. I got ‘Jack’ and the birthday girl, Grace, was helped onto ‘Madonna’. The instructor was friendly and professional – making sure Grace was comfortable, and giving us both basic instruction on how to sit (heels down) and hold the reigns. The horses knew the drill only too well – not quite as easy as driving an automatic car, but if you’ve never ridden before there’s no need to worry. Jack simply followed the horse in front when we started our trail ride.
If you wish, you can simply walk gently around the bushland trek. But for anyone feeling more adventurous, there’s the option of learning how to trot. For anyone who handled that and wished to go further, there was an option of cantering.
I’m proud to say Grace was up and trotting like a pro. When invited to canter she shook her head, but suggested I would give it a go on her behalf. So canter I did. The instructor was magnificent, explaining exactly where my hands needed to be on the reigns and telling me “to hang on the front of the saddle if it’s more comfortable.” Then Jack and I were off up the gentle slope, with the instructor calling out pointers (most of which consisted of telling me to keep my butt in the saddle).
The hour’s trek ended all too fast, with an impromptu rendition of “Happy Birthday” sung from horseback at the top of our voices. Afterwards we visited the on-site cafe and wandered around the historic farm stay, where Grace probably got the second-best present of the day: putting her big brother in the stocks!