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Horse Reins and a Furious Ride

This is just a little reminder why knowing how to shorten horse reins and checking their length 'before' going for a canter is a good idea...

As a youngster I loved my riding so much that I was almost sorry when it was time for the family holiday. Much as I enjoyed travelling, my parent’s idea of a good day out was often at variance with mine. So it was that one year the prospect of a couple of weeks in Dorset had failed to excite me.

Not there was anything wrong with Dorset! It was just that we had spent several weeks down there in the past and I felt like I had seen it, it done it and bought the T shirt. However, when you are 10 years old, you don’t get to choose holiday destinations. At least not in my family.

The Camp Site

We were staying in a static caravan which didn't do much to raise my level of enthusiasm for the trip. I didn't mind campsites but it was hardly as exciting as staying at the Ritz or the Waldorf Astoria. But as it turned out, this particular caravan had been chosen with me in mind. When we arrived at the campsite I discovered that it had its own riding stables. My feelings about the holiday changed in an instant. I didn't know it but I was about to enjoy one of my most memorable rides.

Meeting Fury

I couldn't wait to get to the stables and jump in the saddle. I had to endure trips to Corfe Castle and the Bovington Tank Museum first though. Only then was I allowed to go riding. I ran all the way to the stable when it was time to ride. I was allocated a horse was called Fury. There was a reason for that which I wouldn't discover until the end of the ride.

The Hack

I mounted quickly, took up the Horse Reins and set off for a hack across the Dorset countryside. It was a great ride and I was disappointed when we turned back toward the stables. As I was a more experienced rider than others in the group, the guide said that I could canter ahead whilst the others returned at a more leisurely pace. I prepared myself, remembering my lessons and checked my horse reins. They had got a bit slack so I smoothly shortened the reins to a suitable length where I could gently feel contact with Fury's mouth, and then urged him on in the direction of the stables.

The Jump

As I made the final turn, the yard was in sight and I could see the gate was closed. I pulled back on the reins as I needed to slow down but Fury wasn't having any of it. He could see the stables and charged headlong towards the gate! I reached the point when I knew that we weren't going to stop in time. My only option was to jump the gate which wasn't funny as there was a hard ground on the other side of it.

As I flashed past I was vaguely aware of my father standing next to the path. I said a prayer and took the jump. Fury cleared the gate with ease and miraculously managed to stop in the yard without killing me or injuring himself. My dramatic entrance triggered gasps of shock from onlookers and eventually a round of applause! Boy, was I glad I had checked my reins beforehand.

Bolting for Home

When the guide finally returned I told about the episode. "Oh! He always bolts for home" she informed me. "We leave the gate open so that he can run straight into the yard". Except that they hadn't! Well it was certainly a ride I wouldn't forget and at least I had remembered to check the horse reins...


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