Big Sky Country
Something we didn’t expect to find when we moved to The Lint Mill was a little bit of cowboy country on our doorstep. However, on a glorious summer’s day, sitting on our neighbour’s decking, barbecue sizzling, drink in hand, you could be forgiven for imagining you are on a ranch in Montana!
Our neighbour, Doreen Allison, the owner of Summerhill Stud, specialises in breeding the American Quarter Horse. Her beautiful stallion ‘My Mom’s A Colonel’ (his stable name is Mac) is stunning to look at and is a talented ‘reiner’, which means he can do sliding stops and spectacular spins just like cowboy horses ‘in the movies’!
Doreen hosts Western Riding Clinics led by an amazing Mexican trainer and wonderful horseman, Sam Magdaleno. The clinics are exciting affairs; horses and riders come from all over Scotland for the chance to work with Sam. On clinic weekends Doreen’s yard is festooned with intricate leatherwork saddles adorned with silver medallions, stirrups and buckles, highly decorative bridles, and glittering show halters. Riders stroll around in denims, cowboy boots, spurs and chaps and there’s always a cowboy hat or two to be seen. Doreen has a big, beautiful sand arena with wonderful views across to Tinto Hill, so you’re always ‘riding with a view’.
Before long I had to have a go myself. Otto, my Irish cob is no fancy Quarter Horse but the Western riding crowd were without doubt the friendliest ‘horsey set’ I’ve ever come across. So with plenty of encouragement from others, as well as expert tuition from Sam, I was discovering the fun of riding like a cowgirl!
The focus of Western riding is on a real partnership with your horse and on the serious enjoyment that comes from that. There is always plenty to learn from others as well as some spectacular displays from Mac and Sail A Rey (Doreen’s newly acquired prize winning school mistress) during their training.
Who would have thought that our little corner of Scotland’s southern uplands could feel like ‘big sky country’ from time to time? We’re so lucky!
*If you are interested in learning more about Western riding why not come along to The Caledonian Western Summer Show on Saturday 23 June at The Scottish National Equestrian Centre at Oatridge, organized by Scottish Western Events. It promises to be a great day out.
We offer discounted B&B rates for Summerhill Western Event weekends, although you need to be quick to book as we have some devoted regulars!