On Sunday morning, Shannon’s mom, Betsi Schaefer, treated us to horseback riding at Post Oak Farm, which is just a half mile from the Schaefers’ beautiful home in Burnet. Betsi and Shannon are relatively more experienced in the equestrian arts, as Betsi takes care of two horses, Carter and Tanner (along with Willie, the precious miniature donkey), and Shannon regularly rode horses during her high-school years, including some stints riding bareback. For me, this was my first horse-riding excursion in 20 years.
Upon arriving at Post Oak Farm, the owner, Helen, gave us a quick overview of her business, which consists of a beautiful expanse of Hill Country landscapes where people can take her horses on 1.5 hour trail rides. Moreover, Betsi’s an excellent realtor in the Hill Country area and she had just closed on one of her listings this weekend. What better way to celebrate than to ride horses through the exquisite, rolling countryside of Central Texas? It made me sure wish I was in the position to purchase a Hill Country retreat. If you’re in that spot in life, contact Betsi Schaefer at TexLake.com or click here to see one of her enchanting acreage homes.
Helen then introduced us to Cat, who was our guide for the day. Before we could get started, Shannon made sure that we found helmets, which would’ve made my safety-first Mom proud.
Cat, in turn, introduced me to my assigned horse, William, who’s good for first-time riders due to his gentle gait. William only has one eye, but he still has a voracious appetite for life. Cat told me that if he senses I’m not in control, he’ll stop to graze on grass, which is a no-no since William’s a tad overweight and has been on a strict diet lately. If William began grazing, I was supposed to pull back on his reins to prevent him from eating and let him know that I’m in charge. Cat also showed me how to gently apply pressure with the reins and my calves in order to tell William when to turn.
Meanwhile, Shannon rode a beautiful mare named Greta, and Betsi had Stix, who’s known for his ability to lead the others.
William and I followed the veteran riders along the gently sloping Hill Country landscape. At certain points, we were treated to exquisite views of the countryside.
Once we hit some open land, Cat let us kick our horses into faster trots. Shannon and Betsi were adept at trotting their horses, but I had some problems, as I didn’t realize I was supposed to stand up in my stirrups when William went on a run. It’s quite a bumpy ride if you’re seated in your saddle while the horse trots. I’m sure that Augustus McCrae from Lonesome Dove would’ve had some humorous jab regarding my ineptitude in the ways of a true cowboy.
Soon, I was getting the hang of standing up in my stirrups, but I couldn’t understand why William would slow back down a few seconds after I kicked for him to begin a trot. Only towards the end of the ride did I learn from Shannon that I needed to keep my heels pressed against William’s sides to let him know that he was supposed to continue trotting. I’m sure that my lack of skill confused poor William.
And that brings up another point: horses are highly intelligent creatures. They can learn a vast array of behaviors, while retaining their unique personalites. For example, William and Stix seemed to have a relationship that’s akin to a sibling rivalry. On at least two occasions, Stix stopped in front of William to defecate near his face; William responded by attempting to bite Stix. Later, William remembered Stix’s transgressions when they were drinking water at a trough, as William tried to bite Stix again before I tugged in his reins.
After dismounting from our horses, we thanked them for treating us to such a wonderful experience in the natural Hill Country setting. Now that I have a few beginner skills under my belt, I’m excited to work on riding at a bit of a faster pace. I highly suggest that anyone interested in horseback riding make the relatively short drive out to Post Oak Farm in Burnet. And you may even decide that you need a permanent spot out there, in which case you should give Betsi Schaefer a call.