To say that I am a city slicker would be a massive understatement. I tend to always prefer the comfort of my home over Mother Nature and have always preferred watching outdoor sport instead of actually participating in it.
Perhaps that is why I was cautiously pessimistic about horseback riding with Maple Crescent Farm (9741 County Road 10, R.R. 1, Campbellcroft ON) in the Ganaraska Forest. While equestrian activity might not seem like a big deal for most people, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I saw a “riding lesson” marked in my Kawarthas itinerary. I peppered my guide with questions about the types of ‘athletic gear’ that I would need to wear for the ride and whether hiking shoes or boots would be a prerequisite. I was told that “any outfit” would work for the informal ride, but remained skeptical until I arrived on-site.
When I arrived, I was greeted by Boris Khaimovich, a big and burly Russian man who surprised me with his Western-themed outfit complete with boots and a cowboy hat. Boris and Kendra’s farm features over 35 acres of pasture, a 120 x 80 ft. sand ring, and 100 acres of rolling hills to ride. I quickly signed a waiver (that only added to my apprehension) and put on a helmet.
Boris explained that we would be taking a short trail ride and quickly helped me mount my horse “Jimmy.” Immediately, it seemed to me like Jimmy and I weren’t destined to be BFF’s as he seemed more focused in gnawing at the grass in front of him than the terrified rider who needed several boosts just to get onto his saddle.
Once we established as much of a rapport as we could in the four-minute struggle for me to mount my horse, Jimmy and I were off and the ride was just as stunning as you could imagine. The Ganraska Forest is a luscious terrace of nature and I was captivated by the endless greenery and billowy trees around me.
The chiseled trail was perfect as it allowed for a run that was somewhat challenging but still easy enough for first-time riders. There were more difficult trails available as well, but I told Boris that I actually had people back home who loved me and still had articles to write.
While I thoroughly enjoying the ride, it seemed like I was having trouble communicating with Jimmy about which direction to turn. When I tried to take him to the left by pulling in his reigns, he seemed to almost laugh at me as he continued to eat the poison ivy around him. With that being said, the 1-hour ride forged a bond, and we were finally starting to understand each other by the time we rode back into the stable. I recognized his need to eat and he appreciated my desire to live to see another day.
While there are so many reasons why horseback riding is the best choice when attempting to take in everything that the Ganaraska Forest has to offer, perhaps the one that is the most important is that riding is the only way to fully immerse yourself in the gorgeous land around you.
Boris is a hilarious guide and teacher. While he valiantly attempted to get my group of riders to sing along with him, it didn’t take him too long to realize that my singing wasn’t really an option for me as I was busy trying to ensure I didn’t fall of my horse.
I can say with absolute certainty that horsebacking riding at Maple Crescent Farm is a definite must for your next Weekendtrip to the Kawarthas-Northumberland region. Don’t be afraid of what you have to wear or if you haven’t ridden before. My only advice is to make sure you bring some carrots for your horse before you get on it.
Here’s a video of my experience:
For more information about horseback riding and the types of rides and lessons that are available, check out MapleCrescentFarm.com