Glistening in morning sunlight, the meadow awakens at the Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Va.
Strolling to the Equestrian Center, I entered a classic wooden stable: Leather saddles (English or western), a tack room where riders are outfitted under the gaze of a dozen horses, several cats and dogs.
Yoga mats are spread amid the stables most mornings prior to breakfast,
But I was not prepared for yoga on horseback.
Doing down-dog stretches, a rider calmly trots past.
Yoga on horseback is part body language, part mind-body training, says Equestrian Center director Sheryl Jordan. The horse’s body warmth adds calm support, and spotters are on each side if your balance falters.
A trainer for the past 40 years, Jordan believes the relationships between horses, humans, and nature can equip riders with life-changing leadership skills.
First we discuss protocol and how to communicate with a horse. Even where to stand before mounting. The horses respond gently, and I offer treats in their feed box (never feed the horse directly). The full program includes grooming and leading, instruction in the outdoor oval, and optional riding bareback or with a saddle.
Salamander’s equestrian program has opened a new phase for children and their parents. Commenting on the experience, Susan Flaherty wrote: “Not only did Ms. Jordan teach us a great deal about horses, but she also expanded the lesson to the rest of our lives as well. So she is a horse whisperer and a life coach all rolled into one. We found her immensely talented and personable. We see her as the very best of the many pleasant staff we encountered during our stay.”
The multi-level Equi-Spective Experience can be scheduled in four-hour or eight-hour sessions, ranging in price from $200 to $450 per person in group session, or from $125 for private sessions lasting one hour, tailored to your ability.
The horse’s response to my body language encouraged confidence. There was something calming as we bonded. I’m convinced we learn more from the horses than good grooming and balance.
After a morning in the saddle, head for the Salamander Spa to relax muscular aches with a rider’s massage. And lunch at the resort’s Gold Cup wine bar.
Contact: Salamander Resort & Spa, 500 North Pendelton Street, Middleburg, VA 20117.
www.SalamanderResort.com Telephone: (540) 687-3600