Highbrae's Travels

Karen checks an item off her “Bucket List”

NL Karen at manege 03 med

Early morning on our second day found Karen exploring on-line for ideas, suddenly her excitement left little doubt that we were off to the Hollandsche Manege (Dutch Equestrian School Museum) If her desire to visit a true European Riding Academy weren’t enough, the fact that they were offering a “Carrousel” demonstration. So off we headed to the Dutch Equestrian School Museum, passing Vondelpark, which at one time we are told, was for the exclusive use of the wealthy and privileged to take their horses and carriages out to see and be seen. Now sadly the horses from the nearby center are no longer even allowed in the park.NL Manege stables

We tour the stable dating from 1882, and enjoy the steelwork on the stalls and the very worn and uneven cobblestone floors. Passing the stalls Karen is amused to see the horses receive Muesli with their grain, and takes a look at the flakes in the feed barrow as it goes by. Before the show we enjoy watching an ongoing riding class, with mostly novice riders…. so many memories.

While waiting for the Carousel to begin we are settled in the balcony with a cup of tea for Karen and the usual beer for Tom, although after a few sips, Karen finds the beer almost enjoyable. The eight riders soon enter the ring with the gentlemen riding astride in full dressage dress, and the ladies in red velvet riding habits and veils all riding side saddle. We appreciate the age of the ladies most of which would be over 60 as they masterfully guide their mounts through what we would call a quadrille, with big smiles.

As we’re sitting and enjoying the show, a lady comes to us on the balcony overlooking the performance ring, to ask if Karen would like to try sitting on a sidesaddle? At this thought Karen decided that she needed a touch of liquid courage and the cup of tea included in our admission we just not doing the job.

With courage (and show) well completed, the lady who had extended the invitation to try side saddle, reappeared with an armload of helmets, leaving no doubt that the side saddles were not to be sitting on racks. We are not dressed for riding, and Karen fervently hopes for a mounting step! Once instructed how to mount and sit, it is a pleasant surprise to receive a short lesson in side saddle riding on the very calm, gentle horses from the carousel. When Karen has finished her turn she is amazed to find Tom putting on a helmet to give it a try too! One of the gentlemen informs us that the men of the carousel all ride side saddle once a year, appreciate the women’s ride.

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