A Week of Sport Discovery: Equestrian (Horseback Riding)
Sport Calgary is doing a blog series on the different Sport Calgary member organizations. This blog introduces Calgarians to sports offered in the city they can try. Ryley is an intern at Sport Calgary for the four months between the third and fourth years of her degree. She is pursuing a bachelor of communication, majoring in PR and minoring in marketing and has a passion for sport. Ryley loves trying new activities and finding different ways to get moving and staying active for life. Her main activities are hiking, skiing, yoga, running and surfing, all of which either her mom, boyfriend or dog loves to join her in doing!
When I was little, I was obsessed with horses. I liked drawing them, writing stories about them and pretending I had one. When I got to take a couple of horseback riding lessons as a kid, I was overjoyed. I loved the pony I got to ride (her name was Sally) but I quickly realized that horseback riding was not the sport for me due to the fact that I was SO allergic to horses. That didn’t stop me today though, when I went out to SugarTide Equestrian to ‘get back on the horse’ as they say!
SugarTide Equestrian is approximately a year and a half old. The facility is really nice and well taken care of, containing 25 large stalls for the horses, an indoor arena, an outdoor arena, and many other places on the grounds for the horses to run around. SugarTide hosts about 60 riders for lessons. It is one of the many stables in the Calgary area that is part of the Ticket to Ride program, which is how I got to try equestrian. The ticket is free, one per person, and is good for a one-hour lesson, a discounted lesson package or an ‘introduction to horses’ barn tour. Find your Ticket to Ride here. Victoria is one of the owners of SugarTide. She showed us around and then introduced me to my buddy for the day, an 8-year-old quarter horse named Riptide.
I wouldn’t say I’m scared of horses, but they are big and you should be cautious when near them. Riptide stood tall at 5’6” at his shoulders (probably about seven feet tall including his head), so I was careful about what I was doing when we put on his saddle and bridle. He was very sweet and rubbed his head on my chest to give me hugs as we got him ready to ride.
Once I was in the saddle, I was surprised how calming it was to lean with Riptide as he walked around the arena. It brought me back to being a kid and how excited I was every time I got on a horse. I messed around with the reins and steering for a little while, and then we practiced the positions for trotting and jumping before trying both those skills out as well.
I had such a good time at SugarTide. It was an extremely positive experience and if I wasn’t so allergic (I still can’t breathe through my nose) I would absolutely go back. I still might, just for the relaxing movement of riding a horse. Horseback riding can be expensive when you own your own horse, but at SugarTide, if you purchase a monthly package, each lesson (including borrowing a horse) is only $47. Victoria said they can provide volunteer opportunities for kids who can’t afford lessons and camps by having them help clean stalls or do other chores around the stable. The main goal of Ticket to Ride and of SugarTide is to spread the love of equestrian to as many Albertans as possible.
The Ticket to Ride program exists to encourage people to try equestrian at any age. Equestrian helps people develop social skills, responsibility, leadership and keeps them active. At SugarTide specifically, there is a zero-tolerance policy for bullying or any disrespectful behaviour towards animals or people, so it is a safe place to learn how to ride.
The entire equestrian community in Alberta is perceived as elitist, but through Ticket to Ride, anyone can try the sport and continue as seriously or casually as they want. Don’t let the stigma deter you. I had such a good time and I hope more Albertans take advantage of this program to discover if this sport is for them!
Sport Calgary members have access to our resources at Sport Calgary such as marketing on social media, blog entries, features and placement on our calendar. Many other benefits will be available with the re-launch of our website in 2018. Becoming a member is easy and FREE! Go to www.sportcalgary.ca, and under the “Join Us” tab click on the link that corresponds with you or your group. Fill out the form and you will be added to our membership. Sport organizations and individuals can join.