Thursday, July 21, 2016

Students, staff saddle up and hit the trail

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.”
― William Shakespeare, Henry V
Lamya Almuhiza gets some advice. 
When students from the LCI visited Winterfrost Farm in Radford this month, they could certainly appreciate these words from Shakespeare regarding the horse by the time they had completed an hour trail ride.

It was the first time that Faisal Alhamdan, Abdulwahab Alzahrani, Ibrahim Hamdan, Junyuan Pang, and Dekai Yu had ridden a horse, but judging by the smiles on their faces, it will not be the last. Lamya Almuhiza is an experienced rider who went with the group.

Riding for the first time as an adult can be intimidating. A friend of Dekai Yu’s had warned him that people often fall from horses. Ibrahim Hamdan said he had no idea what to expect. Those thoughts may have been on the minds of other students as Sheila Palmer Miles, owner and operator of this horse rescue, greeted everyone with enthusiasm. She gave a brief lesson on mounting, guiding, and other tips to make the ride enjoyable and safe for both horse and rider. After students mounted up, they took a trial ride around the indoor arena before heading out on the trail.

Junyuan Pang on the trail.
The trail began in an open field with views of the surrounding mountains. Before heading into the woods, students faced an unusual obstacle in having to pass through a narrow gate with an overhead bar. The coolness of the woods rewarded all with its freshness. After meandering up and down hills, students were able to look out over the New River and see the Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech on the other side. Faisal Alhamdan exclaimed, “Breathtaking!” when he recalled seeing the view.

As herd animals, horses like to stay together, so if a few fell behind, they moved into a quick trot to catch up. All of the LCI students, including first-time riders, were straight in the saddle as if they had been riding since childhood. As the group approached the barn on the final leg of the trail, everyone felt that the experience had ended too quickly. Students lingered a bit after dismounting to reward their horses with carrots. After bidding a reluctant farewell to horses and stable hands, the group headed back to Blacksburg.

Sondra Schreiber gets some tips.
With a few days to reflect on the experience of the trail ride, Ibrahim Hamdan stated that the ride was one of the best experiences he has had since he came to the LCI, and he looks forward to returning to Winterfrost Farm in the not too distant future. Abdulwahab Alzahrani was still smiling and enthusiastic about the opportunity for a trail ride. By the way, since Ibrahim, Abdulwahab and Faisal were in a group with the trail leaders, they have been affectionately named “The Three Amigos!”

A note about Winterfrost Farm: It is a horse rescue caring for abused horses that have been confiscated by Animal Control as well as horses whose owners can no longer afford to care for them or who no longer want them. Trail ride fees help provide feed, vaccinations, farrier work, and other needs of the horses. There are numerous volunteers who assist with the horses’ care and accompany riders on the trail. For more information, or to schedule a ride, check out their website.

The LCI group hits the trail.
Dekai Yu sits in the saddle as a volunteer checks the tightness of the girth.

Sheila Palmer Miles of Winterfrost Farm gives a demonstration. 

Ibrahim Hamdan

Abdulwahab Alzahrani

Faisal Alhamdan