Horses, you either love them or hate them. On one hand they are magnificent, elegant, beautiful creatures. On the other, they are unpredictable, and have enough power to knock a bunch of humans over like skittles. So it was with some trepidation that my friend and I made the 40 minute journey from Bournemouth to Southampton for our first proper riding lesson at Quob Stables.
I have been horse-riding a couple of times (when I say riding, I mean being lead around by a bored looking stable girl) and customer service-wise, past experience had told me not to expect much. However we received a warm and friendly welcome as we walked into the spacious reception area. Sensing we were a little nervous, the reception staff put us at ease immediately with friendly chat as we were fitted with riding hats. There were four of us in the lesson, all of similar (little) experience. I was introduced to my horse Buddy, and after a quick word in his ear about being kind to me, I inelegantly clambered on using the steps provided.
Unlike my previous rides where I just wobbled about on top of the horse, our on-foot instructor spent time teaching us the vital basics of how to sit, how to go and stop, and correct positioning when walking and trotting. Buddy for his part trotted stoically around as I flopped about on his back trying in vain to perfect the rising trot between fits of laughter.
At the end of the hour, our instructor recommended the next course of action for each of us based on what she’d seen.. For me, it would be a lesson on the marvellous Dressage Simulator. This fantastic contraption is the same size of an actual horse and re-creates it’s motion, giving beginners and professionals alike the opportunity to practise their technique over and over without bothering the actual horses.
After the lesson, we enjoyed a delicious lunch in The Hayrack Cafe, serving a huge variety of homemade hot and cold food which can be eaten overlooking the indoor arena or pre-ordered to take away with you.
Chatting to the lovely receptionist, I discovered that the stables cater for all ages, from tiny tots to adults, and provide a variety of individual and group lessons for all abilities including show jumping and competitions. Quob has both indoor and outdoor arenas and also run a huge range of fun activities in addition to lessons. Youngsters can enjoy the Teddy Bears Picnic, Own a Pony Day and for special occasions Pony Parties, which include a group lesson, food and party bags. For adults there’s a Ladies Morning Group or Ladies Do Lunch, and the centre also caters for hen and stag parties (The Hayrack has a licensed bar which can be used as part of the package – AFTER the horse ride!).
Quob isn’t just a stables, it’s an all singing, all dancing Equestrian Centre. There’s even a creche for little ones and hairdresser salon on site (perfect for sorting out helmet hair!) – they’ve thought of everything! So if you’re looking to try a new hobby, find an interesting way to keep fit or organise a fun group activity, this is the place, I will definitely be returning!