Horsing around, and loving it
WHO: Globe features editor Steve Greenlee, his wife, and their three kids, ages 9-12
WHAT: Horseback riding
I’m on a horse.
This is my daughter’s doing. Amelia, 9, has been saying for months that she wants to take a horseback ride. (I’m grateful that she hasn’t been saying she wants an actual horse.) So on a warm August afternoon, we find ourselves at Sunset Stables in Lincoln, R.I. - one of the few places near Boston that lets people with no riding experience simply walk in and take a guided ride through the woods.
Sunset Stables borders the pristine Lincoln Woods State Park, and we are soon astride five fine quarter horses. Despite being the youngest and smallest of us, Amelia has somehow snagged the largest horse, whose name is Red. Our guide gives us quick instructions for our one-hour ride: Pull the reins left if you want the horse to turn left, right if you want him to turn right. (Complicated, but I think I’ve got it.) If the horse starts to fall behind, kick with both heels. Don’t let the horse stop to eat.
The six of us form a straight line and head for the trail. My 12-year-old sons, Liam and Aidan, are right behind our guide, followed by Amelia, me, and finally my wife, Kelly, whose horse, Fusion, is a bit of a straggler. Fusion keeps stopping to chew leaves and grass, an act that brings half-teasing admonishment from the guide. She shouts: “Don’t let him stop, Kelly!’’ She shouts: “Come on, Kelly!’’ She shouts: “Get him moving, Kelly!’’ She shouts: “You kick like a girl!’’ Kelly, not Fusion, is apparently becoming a problem. Kelly will be lucky if she doesn’t have to clean the stalls afterward.
My horse, Blue, needs neither direction nor discipline. Blue is behaving like a well-oiled machine - stays on the trail, never falls behind, doesn’t stop to munch. It must be my mastery of the animal. The horse knows who’s boss. The horse senses the alpha-horse in charge. “I’m an expert equestrian,’’ I inform Kelly, who knows darn well that I had been on a horse exactly once before, 15 years earlier. “Just do what I do,’’ I tell her.
The ride through the woods is splendid and mostly quiet, broken only by occasional bursts of “You’re lagging behind again, Kelly!’’ Along the way, we pass a pair of fawns resting, hidden in the brush, not at all spooked by the approaching equine and human beasts. Now and then we trot. (“Keep up with us, Kelly!’’) Or the horses trot; the humans bounce uncontrollably - and, for the adult male, uncomfortably - in their saddles.
Too soon, the ride is over. We climb down from the horses and bid them farewell. Our guide tells us that we rode well, that we caught on quickly - Kelly’s recalcitrant charge notwithstanding. Yes, well, the horses get at least some of the credit.
Sunset Stables, 1 Twin River Road, Lincoln, R.I. 401-722-3033. www.sunsetstablesri.com. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. A one-hour trail ride costs $30.