Sabine and her family stayed with us for a few days this week. We were on a bike ride and passed a gorgeous farm and riding stables. I think we had the idea simultaneously: “Let’s go horseback riding!”
When I think of horseback riding I either think of dude ranches (not glamorous) or equestriennes in pristine jodhpurs and shiny riding boots (glamorous). My riding experience is limited to a few summers on trails in Wisconsin with old horses who followed the other old horses. It was exciting when one would veer off the path or jog a little.
We ended up booking a half hour trail ride at Rita’s Stables (West Lake Road, Montauk) for Sabine and the kids and I. The fathers wisely, in hindsight, decided to play tennis instead. We pulled up to Rita’s, where I narrowly missed hitting a wandering goat. I should have been more careful, since there were several hand-painted and poorly spelled signs all over telling me that animals are roaming freely.
Needless to say, the kids loved this animal anarchy. Duck chasing and goat petting started immediately, while Sabine and I met Rita and signed all the scary liability paperwork. Speaking of scary, let’s talk about Rita: lots of missing teeth, loud voice, sweary, bad hip so therefore stayed in her pick-up truck and talked to us from there. She had a few very pretty young underlings running around with the horses, and I’m quite certain she kept a riding crop somewhere to punish them. They were scared shitless of her, and she bellowed orders at them like a mean stepmother.
After reading the paperwork, including the section about being offered helmets I asked, “So, Rita, can we have some helmets for the kids, please?” Look of incredulity. “Really, you want helmets for them?” “Um, yes, please.”
Some more hollering and scurrying, and a huge tub of helmets was brought out. I had a hard time buckling Five’s helmet, and mentioned it to Rita. “Oh, yeah, well sometimes the goats like to chew on them. It’ll be fine.”
Despite this, we allowed all four children to be mounted, poorly fitting helmets and all. Sabine’s youngest is four and her horse was tied to the guide’s horse. All four kids followed the guide, followed by Sabine and I. Sabine had Larry, and I was on Maggie. Apparently Larry and Maggie have some sort of long-standing love affair, and I was supposed to just let Maggie follow Larry around. I didn’t really like the sexual politics there, but I did as told, since I don’t really know how to steer a horse anyway.
The ride was on a dusty trail around the farm’s perimeter. Some quotes nicely sum up the ride:
- “Watch out for the prickers!”
- “Ahhh, Charlie, get back on the path”
- Guide: “Mom, you need to tell your daughter to straighten herself out or she’s going to fall off her horse.” Sabine: “Well, can we stop and fix her saddle?” Guide: “No, because if we stop my horse is going to start kicking.”
- Rita: “You need to keep Larry a good 3 horse lengths away from the kids’ horses. He doesn’t like the little horses and may go after them.”
Needless to say, we survived with only some minor pricks and dust in our eyes. And a last sartorial note–soft soled sandals are a dumb choice of footwear for riding horses. Trust me. Manure and strappy Italian sandals just don’t mix.