Riding in this Equestrian Garden Might Rescue Us All- Part 4

This dream equestrian park doesn’t actually exist, but if Brian and I have our way, someday golfers won’t be the only ones with landscaped spaces in which to recreate. And, this equestrian garden could subtly be offering more than just recreation.

by Juliette Ober

I have a theory that an equestrian park like this one, where the focus and expenditure is on path maintenance, attractive grounds, and après-riding amenities, actually might assist rescued horses of all breeds, all ages, all sizes, find serenity in their new life better than traditional equestrian centers, show grounds, and planned communities.

This type of equestrian center encourages relaxed, unhurried rambles. I found on my own farm that three very young (Pie was three when he arrived) ex-racehorses are never flustered about strolling for an hour in the woods and over the fields without lunging or ring work first. Why is this?

horse geocaching

We found it! Geocaching with daughter, Maizie, and husband, Brian, while riding ex-racer, Max, in Florida equestrian park, December 2011. Photo by Juliette Ober.

At the equestrian park in Florida I observe the same calm, safe rides on young horses each morning. Horses there are of many different breeds and a few are rescues, yet the “work” we are asking them to do each day is enjoyable. They are sane, sound and interested. There is no scheduled urgency and no repetition in a small space. Instead, the horses seem to delight in the simple beauty of a long walk in a lovely park as much as their rider.

Horse soundness, in their mind and feet, comes from balanced, untroubled daily rides. Too many times I’ve witness older riders kindly rescue a horse only to find difficulties when trying to adapt them to the dictated schedules created in the showing and clinic world. Even sporadic long distance trail riding can be hard on a rescued horse’s mind and body. Trailering to different linear parks becomes all day affairs and therefore lacks consistency because it is so physically stressful for horse and rider.

An equestrian park with the appropriate amenities and diverse scenery promotes tranquil daily rides for a reasonable amount of time. Both horse and rider spend their time together infinitely happier than being “in training” or constantly at opposite ends of the lunge line. To me horse rescue is about finding the kind of peace this setting offers in abundance.

Read Part 3- Desired Amenities for the Ideal Après-Riding Park

About the Author: Juliette Ober retrains off-track-Thoroughbreds (OTTB) to be safe riding horses on her Pennsylvania farm. She rides her three rescued Thoroughbred geldings daily in a bitless bridle and usually bareback. When not at the barn, Juliette enjoys long distance running with husband, Brian, and daughter, Maizie. Her Thoroughbred retraining blog www.honeysucklefaire.com chronicles her bitless adventures. More stories about Juliette's style of riding can be read at www.foundinthefog.com