A Leg Up:
YOUNG RIDERS GET AN OPPORTUNITY
THROUGH THE YMCA AND BREK-N-RIDGE FARM IN HARBOR SPRINGS
Anna Haney, seven years old and still growing into her boots, stands beside a pony, ready to mount. Karin Offield, her instructor, encourages Anna to keep the pony still. “Here,” she says, “let me give you a leg up.”
That’s just what Karin has done through her new riding program with the YMCA, by making introductory riding lessons affordable for a wider range of families.
Anna’s mother, Dana Ashton, a middle school teacher in Petoskey, says that her girls had expressed interest in riding for over a year. “No one in our family rides,” she says. “We didn’t imagine ourselves as horse people. But when I heard the YMCA was offering lessons through Brek-n-Ridge Farm, I thought that would be a great way for my girls to get a taste of the sport.”
Abby, age nine, and Anna signed up for eight lessons at a low cost. Karin made sure that the girls did more than just get onto a saddle and ride. They have also learned how to groom and care for horses with Kate Etherly.
“Karin and Kate have both been wonderful,” says Dana. “They are gracious, kind, knowledgeable, and patient teachers. From the beginning, Karin has been in-tune with my daughters’ very different natures and personalities and has naturally brought out the best in each of them.”
The girls have discovered confidence in their skill with St. Nicholas, the Welsh pony. Karin doesn’t talk down to the kids, but offers straightforward encouragement. “You must have been a horse in another life,” she says to Anna, who beams. Abby was surprised to find how active riding is – how physically demanding.