TEAM BUILDING - Zinati at the ranch
An important aspect of our company culture is our quarterly team-building activities. Once each quarter, we set an afternoon aside to go do something together – outside of the office environment. We have had many adventures together, from simple pool parties to escape rooms and comedy night.
In the spirit of National Learning and Development Month, our October Team Building activity taught us all a new skill… horseback riding!
Silver Creek Ranch
Silver Creek Ranch is owned and operated by Mandi Dupuis, located just outside of Carp. The ranch provides instructional and consulting services for English and Western horseback riders from beginner to advanced competitive levels. The Ranch offers a lease program to qualified riders and a training program for young or green horses.
Educational versus entertainment
One of the things our team enjoyed most about our day at Silver Creek Ranch was how educational Mandi made the experience. We had anticipated the typical “here are your horses, get on and go for a ride” experience that a few of us have had at different ranches. Mandi however took a lot more time and energy in teaching us about the horses we are riding.
After getting us equipped with our helmets and riding boots (provided by the Ranch), Mandi took us through the process of tacking up our horses for the ride. First, she demonstrated on a beautiful horse named Hot Rod how to use each of the brushes. We learned that different brushes have different purposes, such as bringing the oils in their hair to the surface or removing deeper layers of dirt. We also learned about cleaning the horseshoes, though the ranch hands did that for us as a safety precaution.
After the brushing, Mandi showed us how to properly apply the blanket and saddle. We were taught how to properly tighten the saddle at the right speed so as to not upset the horse. While explaining, Mandi talked about the psychology of the horses and how and why certain movements or gestures could upset them.
Once the demonstration was over they brought 2 horses forward, along with a few bags of brushes. We were divided into two groups and got to tack up those horses ourselves. We took turns with the brushes and did a pretty good job, considering many of us had not done it before. As we worked, the ranch hands tacked up the rest of the horses for our ride.
Learning to Ride
Once we had our horses ready to go, we led them to the ring so we could learn how to properly mount and ride the horses. First, Mandi Dupuis demonstrated on Domino, and then she and the ranch hands helped us get on our horses. While we waited for our turns our horses showed us how full of personality they are and we had a great time getting to know them. Eventually, we were all mounted and ready to go!
After we were ready, Mandi and her team led us out of the riding ring and on a tour around the fields. We learned how to adjust our bodies for when the horse is going uphill and when they are going downhill. We stayed in a line, at a nice steady pace, while Mandi used a voice amplifier to tell us about the property and her time running the ranch. We paused for a quick photo opportunity so we could all get pictures with our horses.
Bonus: Meeting the Baby!
After our trek around the property, we went back to the riding ring where we were given the opportunity to, one at a time, go faster on the lunge rope. This involved Mandi or a ranch hand holding onto a long rope attached to the horse’s bridle, which steered our horse for us. We got to bring the horses to a faster speed based on our own comfort levels, with some of us going to a faster trot and some to a slower trot.
After we finished it was time to leave. We led our horses back to the barn and removed their saddles. Then we were led to a separate yard where we were introduced to Jules, the newest foal born in July. She was a curious girl, with a face full of crumbs she was ready to rub all over us as we said hello.
Wrapping up and heading home
The day eventually ended and it was time to return home. We all had an amazing time at Silver Creek Ranch and loved Mandi’s hands-on, educational approach to her instructions. Not only did we have a good time riding, we also learned quite a bit about horse care and the psychology of horses. This will be a team-building exercise that stays close to our hearts as we all bond with our horses and take the time to relax, learn, and have fun. We send our heartfelt thanks to Mandi for her care and attention, and to John for taking our team on this adventure!
If you are looking for horseback riding lessons near Ottawa, we highly recommend checking out Mandi Dupuis’ Silver Creek Ranch!