Get Active: Lead your way to a healthier lifestyle with horse riding in Beckton
PUBLISHED: 10:55 19 March 2015 | UPDATED: 12:03 19 March 2015
The only time I'd ever been on a horse was during a desert trip in Tunisia and that I did just for fun.
I’ve never really gathered the benefits of horse riding and I’ve never considered it to be a real type of “exercise” either.
So when I put myself up for a spot of riding as part of my plan to get active I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
When I got to the Docklands Equestrian Centre, in Beckton, I was welcomed by centre manager, Jean Ryan.
The centre is owned by registered charity, Newham Riding School & Association Ltd.
As it was my first lesson, I was asked to fill out a health and safety form, and was introduced to my instructor, 23-year-old Julie Scanlan, who started as a young student at the centre and worked her way up to teaching level.
But it was the horse that I was really excited to meet and after finding the right hat and boots, I was finally introduced to Vogue.
The 25-year-old horse was to keep me company for the next hour as I went through a nerve-wracking yet enjoyable session in a bid to keep fit.
“She’s got a mind of her own, but she’s a really good horse to train on because she’s so active,” Julie said.
Chloe Tkaczek, who works full time as an apprentice at the barn, was to control my horse for the session through a lead rein.
The lesson started with a walk around the barn which then progressed into light trotting.
We lined up one after the other and took it in single turns to complete the trot.
Chloe said: “It is just a light jog, riders need to remember to keep looking ahead.
“As a starter you can let go of your reins and hold on to the saddle to have more control.”
Following the trot, we also took a shot at cantering – a three beat gait which is faster than a trot but slower than a gallop.
Chloe, 16, from Canning Town, was very helpful in reminding me how to hold the rein properly and was always on hand to provide encouragement.
She said: “We have different groups of people coming all the time. It’s great fun, everyone knows each other and it does keep you very active as well.
“When you trot and canter, you can feel your legs working, it is good exercise.”
She was right. The hour seemed short and by the end of it I felt great.
My experience was made better by the friendly atmosphere of all the staff at the charity.
The fact that I didn’t start feeling the pain in my legs until the next day was also a bonus.
Classes can be booked for children and adults in 30 minute and hour sessions.