|By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
HAMILTON, Ohio — Every year, just after the holidays, parents, grandparents, spouses, friends and visitors crowd into Old Stone Riding Center to watch students - kids and adults - perform in the Musical Rides. It’s a 25-year-old colorful and sometimes cold tradition.
The horses’ breath rises like steam from a teakettle. Riders keep their coats on until the last minute, taking them off just before mounting to reveal colorful costumes.
This year stable owner-manager Julie Bath-Primack started the show with an elegant dressage show on Joss Hanbury, a bay Hanoverian-Thoroughbred cross.
“I really love the feel of the music - it helps us relax and ride in harmony with the horses,” Bath-Primack said. “You want the ride to be a dance with the horse. I think you have to find a medium and the music helps to find it.”
She was followed by students riding quadrilles and dressage patterns, demonstrating the exercises they do on horseback, and giving a vaulting demonstration - an audience favorite.
The vaulting horse walks, trots and canters on a lounge line while costumed students vault onto its back and perform gymnastic routines.
Victoria Albert has been on the vaulting team for five years.
“It’s really fun,” she said. “Vaulting is basically gymnastics on a horse. I like doing doubles and triples.
Team member Nicole Browning said, “That’s two or three people on one horse - you move together on the horse.”
Susan Wollebeck rode her horse, First Edition, in a graceful quadrille - where four horses and riders perform dressage movements, two and two, in a mirror image. Wollenbeck enjoys Old Stone.
“Old Stone is a young barn but very friendly to adults,” she said. “I appreciate the high quality of the instructors, the horses and the facility. Instruction, even in a class, is individualized.”
Riding classes can be helpful in many ways. Bath-Primack said that horses and people are good for each other.
“There are so many different personalities in horses and people and there is usually a right match there for everybody. Horses help us psychologically, and physically - they get us in better shape. They help us emotionally in dealing with stress in our lives and dealing with physical problems.
“We have somebody who rides with us who had a brain stem tumor at one point,” Bath-Primack said. “She had hearing and balance problems and now those have improved a great deal. I’m not going to say it’s all from riding but the riding helped.
“In the same regard a lot of the horses are not perfect. Yet the riders have been able to learn enough to help the horses improve their quality of life and that makes me very happy, too.”
Bath-Primack was pleased to add Hillary Robnick as assistant barn manager this year. “She’s helping teach and take care of the horses and that has been wonderful,” she said.
For details visit www.OldStoneRidingCenter.com or call 513-868-3042.
Published in the January 18, 2006 issue of Farm World.