Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Perfect Escape

It's something I knew but my coworker confirmed it during a conversation earlier this week when he said "... you definitely seem to 'recharge' better with nature and/or animals". You see, I'm an introvert; apparently a severe introvert and I require "me time" to properly recharge after expending my energy on regular events like going to work for 7.5 hours--what a chore! And it appears that I get the most out of being around nature and animals. When I think about Buckingham's entrance into my life (and home), I can see how the dynamics of my home and myself have changed for the better. My parents don't know it but I hear them with the little dude and they sound genuinely happy. Me? I feel plenty better after I spend an evening (or short morning) with him. I know, it sounds a bit crazy cat lady, doesn't it?

Selina Kyle, Catwoman
Selina Kyle, my hero!

So, the prospect of getting out of the city and spending time surrounded by the Ontario nature and horses really appealed to me. I booked a long weekend at Cadogan Farm Adventures in Caledon, Ontario. This is a horse farm B&B where guests can choose to go and relax away from the buzz of the city, or they can take the opportunity to work with and ride horses.

Since I've started riding, I have fallen further and further in love with the countryside of Ontario. Unfortunately for us this evening, we've arrived late and didn't have the opoprtunity to get the full impression of arriving to our weekend home away. The home is stunning and huge: I'm excited.

Friday morning's first order of business was breakfast before getting ready to head out to ride for our assessment lesson at Trailwood Farms (just down the street). And what a breakfast it was! Our hostess, Gina had stocked the pantry with bacon, breakfast sausage, eggs, cereal, juice, bacon, coffee, tea, pastries and more bacon! What a fabulous hearty breakfast to start your day with.

We are introduced to Gina's head instructor, Wendy at Trailwood Farms. I am assigned to ride a chestnut thoroughbred named Sully; he's a big horse compared to what I'm used to riding. I believe he's at least 16hh. We start the lesson together and by the end, we're split up to work on specific things to further tune our weaknesses and strengths. It's nice to ride a properly sized horse and not a pony. Not that I have issues with ponies... but for some reason, a bigger horse seems to feel safer! We do manage to get into a canter and his canter is this nice smooth "da-dun da-dun" that just has you sailing through the air. However, little did I realize, that without me directing him more, he liked to speed up and drift into the ring during turns. Wendy tells me that I have to ride deep into the corners by pushing him into the corners so that he keeps proper balance and doesn't lose me in the process. I work on staying focused on doing what I wanted of him. We finish off the lesson with some ground pole work and then head out. Trailwood Farms is a beautifully maintained location. And their indoor ring...*swoon* it's truly a spectacular facility.

Our afternoon ride for Friday is on Cadogan Farm property but we didn't quite know what we were in for. This time, I'm assigned a sweet and quiet liver chestnut names Sadie who is a bit shy at the get go; she isn't running away from me but she's not exactly interested in me. This time, Wendy's daughter Nicole is riding with us too. She leads us to the interior of the property; as we walk over the small swell of a hill, we're greeted with this stunning open field with some cross country jumps. We're riding in an open field. What a chance! I'm not sure what's going on but it doesn't seem like Sadie is excited to do this with me... she's more interested to go running and jumping about on her own. We eventually sort out our differences and we take to our lesson and practice cantering and trotting. I'm cautioned that Sadie wasn't started properly (she's a rescue) so when she turns, she turns straight as a board and doesn't bend. So it's on me to get her to bend this weekend.

Uh oh! Sadie sees me with carrots...

Three times is bliss, I say. We finish dinner and head over to Greyden for our regular weekly Friday ride. With so much riding in a short period of time, I'm all limber and I remember some of the things we were working on earlier in the day. A successful ride.

Saturday is more riding in the morning at Trailwood and this time I ride a leggy thoroughbred named Mon. He's a dark bay and he's inquisitive and eager. He's also one of the biggest horses I've ever ridden before. He's stunning. But, he's distracted in the arena because the windows are open and he can see the fields and his friends. With a day like that, I wouldn't want to be working either! We eventually figure ourselves out and we have some cantering and transition work. It's more of a similar lesson on Friday except we ride with NR and Kent.

During our lunchtime break, we spend time on the stunning property and find some peace in the teepee set-up on the property. A lazy afternoon and the perfect rest before our next lesson back in the open Cadogan field! It should be noted that at this point, I'm not (not surprisingly) tired and only a tad sore and with a giant bruise on my leg from a stirrup buckle rub. But I hadn't noticed until late Friday night.

It is incredibly liberating to canter in the field again and we learn what a flying lead change is. Something new to work towards when we get better with our canters but for now, we continue to go with a controlled canter and the proper bend. We do some low level pole ground work where our horses are asked to trot over the poles in a specific order. Our last activity is to actually try a basic cross country jump at a trot. It's not the first time we've done a jump but it was certainly a different feeling when there's so much space available to you and your mount!

This is our last lesson for the day and ADW and I head to the Brampton Fall Fair to watch the demolition derby. Have you ever been to one? This was my first and not last! I admit, I didn't have high hopes about this and figured that we'd just go and see what it might be and head back. But I found it very amusing to watch and we stayed for 2 rounds instead of 1! These old clunkers were doing a figure 8 loop and going at full speed (as fast as broken clunkers can go!) and crashing into one another and drifting out in corners! It was hilarious to watch the cars do their bumper car thing and wheels went flat or flew off, bumpers knocked off and one car even rode up onto the barrier early on!

Towing off car 537 from the concrete barriers...

Our evening ends with a bon fire where we sit calmly staring into the flame. There's something very primal about fire and watching it can be hypnotic!

Sunday is our last day and we finish our time at Cadogan with a nice trail ride. When I mounted Sadie, I noticed how tired my body finally is, after 5 lessons in 2 days. And it's only at this point where I'm starting to feel a bit uncomfortable sitting in the saddle. I persist to ride but not as effectively as I was earlier :P The trail ride is a perfect way to end our time here since it's easy and gives me the opportunity to spend a nice slow walk with Sadie so that I can get to know her better.

Just after noontime, we part our ways and say goodbye to Gina and thank her for having us. It was an absolutely wonderful weekend and even then, I could still jump on a horse and take another lesson or two! I can't wait to have another opportunity to head out and ride some more at this perfect escape from the city.


  1. Sounds incredible! That is my dream weekend. Unfortunately my husband very much disagrees, ha ha. ;-)

    1. if you visit over this way, we could go for a weekend!