For some, they may question why we are so Strict and Thorough when we are asking for and providing information to our guests, and why we are very detailed with our Booking Instructions before we let anyone be riding on our horses...
To let you understand the reason why we will let you see from our point of view...
Since we opened in September 2017, we have had hundreds of people riding our horses, and have many experiences that are the references to why we wish every rider to be Honest and have some basic Personal insight before riding our horses.
Let's start with why we wish our riders to tell us their Riding Levels...
Not only is this is to match the right horse and trail to their level, but also to the extra service we would provide for the ones who are inexperienced.
Still... we have some that inform us that they are a Level 2 or 3 ( knows how to trot and canter ), but when they come and sit on our horses, they don´t even know how to hold the reins or sit properly. We have no problem with teaching a novice to ride, and we have techniques to make it safe for both the horse and the rider, and it would be done on a Beginner trail, and not on an Advanced trail with other experienced riders, where their inexperience would hold back and spoil the whole ride for the ones who are riding on an Advanced Level.
And then... with this one-time incidence, without mentioning any names or nationality, let us share with you the experience that led us to why we Emphasize our future guests to have Personal insight, Knowing the difference between riding experience Inside the arena and Outside the arena, Pay before riding, and when Under 18, a parent must sign before riding.
Have in mind: This has never happened before with any of our horses the time we´ve been
running our business, and we are strict to make this will never happen again!
There was a girl that booked a ride with us over WhatsApp, she did not inform us that she was under 18, though we told her to read on our website about the Details before booking an Option A Beach trail with us, where it says clearly on our Website, that if you´re under 18, a parent would have to sign for you. She was dropped off by her father at the club, where the father did not attempt to speak to us or our staff before driving off quickly, leaving her without no money or thoughts of signing our Liability and Release agreement form for her since she was only 14 years old. When finding out her real age just a few minutes before the trail would start, for not to spoil her dream of riding on the Beach, we made it so that her father had to consent that she could ride with us over SMS, without having signed our Liability and Release agreement form. Before the trail everyone has to write down their Riding Level, as she wrote Level 3 ( knows how to trot and canter ), she also told us that she did not ride regularly, but that she always ride on her holidays, some few times in a year, and that she was used to going riding outside on trails as inside the arena. As we explained everyone about the trail, that we will cross waters, and walk into the ocean with water reaching to the knee height of the horses, we noticed that her eyes seem to be a bit worried and distant, but when asked if everyone was ok or had any questions, she and the rest of the group said they were fine and we started our Beach trail.
Joe had to lead 5 horses that day, where this girl started off as the last rider on the line, riding a horse that has been ridden by all levels, from the inexperienced to the experienced.
Just a few minutes into the trail, Joe could notice that the girl was easily spooked by minor things, and seemed very uneasy. So he moved her up the line so she could ride behind him and he could talk her through the trail and keep a close eye on her. She was very nervous around water and started making loud sounds... where her nervous energies and sounds started rubbing off to the horse she was riding, making the horse uncomfortable and unsure about why these sounds and such nervousness. When they arrived at the Beach, we have as a routine to walk the horses into the water first, so they can relax and get used to that day´s waves. She started screaming out loud that she doesn't want to get wet, and at the moment the horse turned away, she threw her weight halfway the saddle, and let herself fall off the horse by letting herself go. It was a very short fall and obvious no major injury or pain. Her screaming and loud sounds made the horse afraid and ran off back the way they came from.
Luckily Cat and the stableman, Noi who was babysitting Serina, was nearby with the car since Cat had to take pictures for a Photo package for others riding on that same trail. With Noi on foot, attempting to find the horse by following the footsteps of the horse, and the girl sitting safe in the back seat of the car, Cat contacted the father on the phone to let him know of the situation, and that he was to come and pick her up. In the meanwhile, after that the girl managed to calm down, Cat got to talk to the girl, where she expressed that it was so different for her to be riding out on trail than inside the arena, and had only fallen off a horse inside the arena before. To that, we must say that it is normal to fall of a horse, its just knowing how to fall safely and handle the situation mentally as well as physically. And yes, riding inside the arena is very different, because when you are out on a trail, you´re outside in nature, where nature can be unpredictable, and being outside is also being with other animals, humans, traffic and in her case... water.
When returned to the club with the girl to await her father to pick her up, the horse was still not found, and Noi still on foot looking for the poor horse. When the father came, the girl spoke to him in their language that she wished him to pay us for the trail, where the father got upset and said to Cat that he refused to pay and that Cat could just sue him for it. Cat answered him, that she was not the one that asked him to pay, it was his daughter, but told him that it was wrong of him in the first place to drop off his daughter without signing for her, pay for the trail before riding, or make sure to talk to us before leaving an underaged girl in our care. Cat also expressed to him that what was, even more, worse by him, was that Cat had taken good care of his daughter, and then he in return did not even ask or cared about the horse who was still missing.
Those few thousand Bath could never replace the sentimental value of the horse, nor the real price of the horse which is over 1 million Bath. With this incident, which we have learned from, is to make sure that everything is signed and paid for before riding. Making sure they have been honest about their level, inside and outside the arena, and when they are too nervous and mentally not fit to ride, immediately told to step down from the horse...
At the end... luckily... Noi came back to the club riding on the horse that he had found in the nearby palm plantation. The horse had no major physical damages, but psychologically some bad memories that has to be replaced with new and good experiences. When reading our side of the story, we hope this answers our future guests who might wonder why we are very detailed about how to book and inform us about one's level, and that they also get to understand the importance of Honesty and Personal insight when booking a ride with us. We are glad to receive and have all types of riders, inexperienced or experienced, it's just to find the right horse, the right group and type of trail that will fit your level. But most important, is that you respect the instructions given to you, and care for the horse that you are riding.
Cat and Joe
To this note, we would also like to apply about the horse, since this article has been out for some while now, we notice that there´s some don´t get our main intention about this article, which is that you as a rider must be calm and honest to us about what your abilities are.
Still, there is some who would blame the horse... and think that the horse is wrong for reacting out: I´ve had enough of these nervous and unclear signals from the one on my back!
As for the horse in this incidence, it was Isabella, our imported mare from California, US.
She is a breeding mare and had just weaned off her latest foal, Arthemisia.
Which perhaps explains why she wanted just to head home while this incidence on the beach.
Isabella has been ridden many times, by both inexperienced and experienced riders.
For example, out stableman Noi, who has no training in riding or techniques, rides Isabella easily, due to his calm and cool nature.
After the incidence, Joe took Isabella out as a trail leader horse to make her relax with a rider
on her back again, and a few days later, a 13 years old girl rode Isabella excellently.
So instead of blaming the horses, one must look at one's self, if you as a rider is actually calm and clear enough to ride in unison with a well-trained horse. For now, Isabella is expecting a new foal, and are not available for our guests to be riding anyways. Just remember, our main message is that you have to be honest to us, be a calm and clear leader for the horse because it is not the horse job to ride for you, you are the leader and rider.