Saturday, August 23, 2014

Scotland, here I come!

By Gayle Carline
Horse Lover and Incredibly Stubborn Woman

When I was 45, I finally arrived at the horse party, and knowing my own limitations, I decided to stick with western-style riding. That saddle is so large and comfortable, I could spend all day in it.

The few times my horse has thrown me, I've really hated to leave it.

This year is a special year for me. It's the Chinese Year of the Horse, which is my sign. And I'm 60, which is some kind of a milestone, I suppose. At any rate, I decided to have a big, fat, horsey birthday year and celebrate for the entire 365 days.

My Swatch "Year of the Horse" Watch!

Part of my celebration is to visit Scotland. I've got Celtic blood in my veins and have always wanted to see the Highlands, the moors, the castles. We made all the arrangements with a lovely travel agent, including a day of golfing for my husband, Dale.

It's Scotland, after all. If you're a golfer, you gotta golf. While he was golfing, what was I supposed to do? An idea occurred to me: go horseback riding.

There was only one problem. I'm pretty sure they don't have western saddles, and I've never ridden English. It's even possible that I told my trainer Niki that she'd never get my tush on one of those little leather postage stamps.

Never say "never," Peeps. It'll bite you in the butt every time.

For about two months now, I've been taking English lessons on my little mare, Frostie. The first day, it felt like I was on a viewing platform. As comfy as I felt in my western saddle, I suddenly had no sense of balance on this little, hard triangle. Over the weeks, I slowly became more used to it, and I do mean "slowly" and "more used to it."

Like my western boots and jeans? LOL!

Here's the thing - I don't HAVE to ride in Scotland. I don't HAVE to learn to ride English. Call me stubborn. I want to ride in the Highlands, and I don't care what I have to do in order to do it.

So I can now two-point (at the trot), post, and even find my diagonal. I doubt if I start riding English for fun, but I'm proud of my new skill and I can't wait to try it out. My only worry is that I'm only 5'2" and I know that Scotland is full of sport horses. I'm hoping there's a pony out there for me.

How about you? Have you ever learned to do something you didn't want to do, just because you wanted to reach another goal?


ChristinaRae said...

Sure there are sport horses, but don't forget the gorgeous little Connemara's :)

Anonymous said...

Highland ponies are Scotland's native pony! Try googling: highland ponies trekking scotland

This site looks most interesting:
"Glenshiel Highland Pony Trekking Centre is a small family run business that offers pony trekking and trail riding in the Highlands of Scotland. We also offer a range of bed and breakfast and self catering accommodation ideally located at Shiel Bridge on the A87 road to the Isle of Skye, close to Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie."

I visited Balmoral, the "Scottish holiday home to the Royal Family" in 1999. Pony trekking on the Queen's Highland and Fell ponies was available ... Just checked, it ceased in 2012. Rats!

You might also want to check with Fell pony owners/breeders in Scotland ... (I'm partial to Fells as I have one!) ... The Queen, regularly rides a Fell (closer to the ground!) and Prince Philip drives a four-in-hand team of Fells in combined driving events. I was lucky to see him compete all three days of a three-day event at Lowther Castle (Cumbria - bordering Scotland).

Just one more Queen tidbit ... The first day at Lowther was also a Fell Pony Breed Show in one of the outlying fields ... Was it raining? Of course, but it's Scotland, so it was wonderful! ... Standing under an oak tree, I looked to my left, barely 20 feet away was ... the Queen ... Looking like anyone's grandmum. Scarf, green raincoat, sensible brown shoes. No fuss, no muss. No entourage of protectors ... People would whisper to each other, "It's Her Majesty..." then all attention would turn back to the ponies, most important of all!

Here's a link to the Fell Pony Society (UK):

And the membership directory (includes Scotland):

Looking forward to hearing about your Scotland adventures!


Gayle Carline said...

I just checked the website of where I'll be riding ( - they have ponies! I won't be riding a draft cross!

Laura Crum said...

Oh Gayle--such fun. I would LOVE to go to Scotland. Very envious. And I hope you have a wonderful time-please post photos.

Gayle Carline said...

Laura - you bet!

SarahW said...

I actually went riding in the Pentlands in Scotland (just north of Edinburgh)- we rode Icelandic ponies and had a blast. I think if you were to go to Ireland, they'd have the bigger horses - either way, draftx, pony, whatever, they'll take care of you and your heart will nearly burst with joy at riding in the beautiful countryside!