Hi, my name is Marcia Ferreira and I’m one
of Baltimore County’s Public Librarians. Welcome to our podcast “Road Tripping with BCPL”.
chance said Linda McCarthy. Well, now a days some of us may choose a different means of
transportation to get to the place that we want. Today we are here at Graham Equestrian
Center right inside of Gunpowder State Park. Professional horse trainer and instructor
Jim McDonald talks with us about building the relationship between horse and rider.
And our mission is to connect horses with people and people with horses. Our primary
mission here is to help people understand how to interface with a horse in a way that
makes sense to the horse so that they can be more effective. And, ah, we want it to
be safe. We want their interaction to be effective. And we want it to be fun. So that’s really
our main focus here. We do a lot of riding lessons but we also teach all aspects of horsemanship.
And we’ve been doing that for fifteen years now. So that – it’s open to the public. So people
can come anytime that they want. They can watch a lesson. We ask that you not feed the
horses because we don’t any ah fingers to be confused with carrots. But other than that
you are welcome to come anytime and enjoy the park.
The love of horses begins at an early age. What the youngest age that riding lessons
can begin? Well, we start riding lessons at age four
and five. Four and five year’s olds have to have a private lesson so it’s one on one.
And sometimes we might even have a side walker, just again to ensure safety of the rider.
Then at age six – they’ve developed enough skill they can get into a semi-private or
a group lesson. And, ah the kids have a lot of fun in the groups because they become friends
and you know they grow up together. It’s never too late to get into horsemanship.
Adults enjoy riding lessons too. I personally teach horsemanship classes where
we start in the classroom. It’s more of a didactic approach initially. Then we moved
into the care and grooming of the horse and the saddling, bridling or tacking up of the
horse. Then we progress into riding. Ah, it’s a more academic approach but a lot of the
adults seem to like that, appreciate it. But you don’t have to do that, you can come and
go through the process. If anyone…that anyone can come and become a riding student here.
For adults who enjoy live music, food, wine and horseback riding, Graham Equestrian Center
offers an event called “Wine and Ride”. It’s a little thing for adults only that we
do. During the warmer months we have a little wine and cheese reception and then ah if it’s
safe you can go for a little – what we a call a mini lesson. So we’ll put the adults on
a horse and teach them how to hold the reins and they’ll ride around in the arena for a
few minutes. Does GEC offer trail rides?
We don’t rent horses out for trail riding because it’s a safety issue for us. But we
often do trail rides as a part of a lesson program. So you might spend a half an hour
in the arena and then spend the rest of the time out on the trails. The trail offers a
lot more challenges to your riding skill because you’re going downhills. You’re stepping over
logs, you’re going through streams, so out of the trail is a little bit more challenging
than riding in a flat arena. Why else is the center so popular with horse
lovers? We get a lot of people who are thinking about
owning a horse. And they come here to learn about what this process is like.
The main message is that you have to learn how to approach a horse from what we call
the prey animal perspective. It’s an animal that’s a flight animal. It’s not like a dog
– it’s not like a big dog. And we want them to learn or at least just begin to think how
horses are different and how much fun that they can be.
We also have a lot of people who own their own horses and they trailer their horses here.
They’ll park in that field over there and then they’ll just ride the trails here.
This lifelong horse enthusiast talks about what it’s like working with beginner riders.
It makes me feel great. And you know it because the smile goes from ear to ear you know. They
can be very unsure of themselves – timid but they get on that horse and they’ll start walking
off. I’m afraid they’re going to get hurt from smiling so much!
Well we hope we sparked your curiosity about horses, taking classes, Ride & Wine. Whatever
it is BCPL is the place for you to start exploring.