The young girls appear to float around the riding ring, sitting easily atop the cantering horses.
Each steed is holding its head low and easy, a desirable position that instructor Nicole Fry says shows that the horses are comfortable.
“See this horse, how low his head is right now? See how long her reins are? That’s most ideal,” she said.
“You don’t want to have to ride with really short, tight reins and spurs and force the horse to go a certain way. We just try to get the horses to relax and put their heads down. We try not to force the horses to do things, we try to encourage them to do what we want them to do.”
Fry’s teaching this approach to 35 students at Eagleridge Stables on the Raynarton Road.
They range in age from four to 60. One of them is a charter pilot who flies from Halifax to Yarmouth then rents a car after her passengers disembark to drive out for her riding lesson.
Some of the novice students competed in their first shows this year and returned with ribbons.
Fry, who has 25 years experience as an equestrian coach, also teaches bridle-less and bareback riding.
“I have a few students who are making great progress in that area,” she said.
“I like to think that a horse will go as we want them to go, without anything on, so you don’t have to force it,” she said.
This feat is accomplished by teaching the horse to associate “whoa” with stopping. To turn right, the rider applies pressure using both leg, and a circle of rein on the neck from the left. To turn left, pressure from both leg and rein are applied to the right side, essentially pushing the horse into the direction desired.
On rainy days the students learn proper feeding methods for horses, about diseases, hoof care and more.
Many youngsters could view the property, which Fry has owned for 12 years, as a “horse heaven.”
A large tack room with comfy couches, a fridge and microwave, is now serving dual purpose as a place for sleepovers.
Some of the students are leasing their horses for free in exchange for cleaning the stalls, feeding and grooming the horses and other chores.
They can ride at night under lights, or explore the area on trail rides. The outings sometimes include a dip with the horses in the river in the summer.
“It’s all about having fun. If they’re having fun, they’re going to learn,” said Fry.