My friend, Sheila, had an awesome sweet sixteen birthday party last weekend. I have to tell you how great it was.
The invitation was in the shape of a horse. Inside it was printed, "You are invited for a day of horseback riding on the beach to celebrate my sweet sixteen party." Below were the details of location, date and time as well as to RSVP and suggestions of what to wear. I was so excited about the party since I had never ridden a horse. I was sure to make sure my camera had lots of film for taking pictures on the trail ride.
The four of us all met at Sheila's house. Sheila is an expert rider and has been riding since she was four years old. She even rides her horse competitively, but the rest of us had either been riding a few times, or like me, never at all. Sheila said there were several horses at the ranch for beginners to ride. They were very mellow and easy to control. Everyone piled into the van and Sheila's mom, Sandy drove us to the stables.
When we arrived and the man in charge, Norm, helped us pick out our horses. He was kind of cute for an older man and also really funny. Before Sheila saddled her horse, she showed me the old gray horse she learned on when she was younger. He was so beautiful, I knew I had to ride him. Sheila told me his name was Toby. I took some pictures of Toby while the groom was brushing and saddling him. We all rode in western saddles, but Sheila rode English. None of us wanted to wear helmets, but Norm said it was the rules and even Sheila always wore one even while riding her own horse. We all led our horses into an arena where Norm spent a half hour teaching us how to mount up properly, hold the reins, how to sit properly in the saddle and how to get our horses to stop, turn and even back up. At the end of the lesson, I handed the camera to Norm so he could take a picture of me and Toby. The photo came out so good put it up on my bathroom mirror.
Anne and I couldn't stop laughing as we left the ranch for the trail. It felt really strange sitting on a living creature that moved. Everyone started getting the giggles. Norm lead the trail ride and took us down a steep trail to the beach. I took some pictures of the blue sky and ocean. Sheila wanted to gallop her horse, but so many of us were beginners Sandy said she didn't think that was a good idea because we might not be able to stop our horses from following hers. Since it was her birthday Norm decided that we could ride ahead while Sheila and her horse stayed behind then she could gallop to catch up. Sandy only agreed because it was Sheila's sweet sixteen party. I got some great pictures of her galloping beside the surf.
Sandy had packed sack lunches for everyone and put them in her saddle bags. The sandwiches were really good--roast beef, with Monterey jack cheese and dill pickles. She also brought some bags of potato chips, a thermos of lemonade and some small styrofoam cups so we could all share. Everyone sang happy birthday to Sheila, including Norm.
After lunch, we mounted up and Norm led us up a trail that followed a stream. The trail was pretty steep, but the horses went at a slow and careful walk. I took lots of pictures of the stream, trees, flowers and the other girls as we made our way back to the stables. On the way back my rear was getting sore, but the ride was still fun. I couldn't believe we rode over two hours! I had such a great time. I can't wait to go riding again!