A Visit with Shelley Peterson
by Elissa Smith, Marketing/Publicity Intern
Having someone welcome you to their home on horseback is probably not the greeting you’re used to, but that’s the one we got when we arrived at Shelley Peterson’s farm. Shelley rode up to us on a horse named Cordelia, who was being trained to handle riders, including steering and jumping. I never really considered what jumping like that would be like for a horse (normally, I’m blown away by how people manage to stay on the jumping horse), so it was interesting to see how much of a concern it is for Cordelia as well as Shelley, who encouraged her to keep jumping until it no longer made her nervous.
Cordelia was guided back to the stable, where we got to meet some of the other horses, including Sabrina, who you probably remember from the Saddle Creek books, and Goldie, who the others would be riding later. The horses were shedding their winter coats, and needed some grooming to help them along. I can’t say I ever thought I’d groom a horse, but I wound up brushing her mane and tail, as everyone was given a different tool to help out. Apparently a horse can shed up to a pony’s worth of hair during the spring.
Then came time to actually ride horses ourselves and…I didn’t do it. I kept debating whether I should or not, but in the end my fear of heights won out, and I decided that I belong on the ground. Watching Shelley instruct the others on how to properly guide Goldie was very interesting however, as apparently it’s not all about tugging on the reigns like you see in the movies. The horse can feel where you turn your body and knows where you want to go based on where you look.
Next, we visited the escarpment, where Shelley explained how much of her actual farm made it into the Saddle Creek books. Turns out, it’s quite a lot! Most of the scenery has actually been put into her books in some form or another, like the river and the caves surrounding the area. We also got to meet Chris, aka the real life version of Cliff from the books, who talked to us about his role on the farm. He really seemed to love the place, and kept saying that helping out doesn’t feel like work to him. The farm is his home and he wants to take care of it.
We returned to Shelley’s house for her interview and some snacks, and then headed back to the stables once more to say goodbye to all the horses, where I met my new friend, Simon. All the horses have their own very distinct personalities, and for the most part they were all very happy to have new people paying attention to them. Simon, on the other hand, was shy. Shelley warned us as we were going in that Simon tended to keep away from people, and would hide behind the door of his stall if anyone got too close. While everyone else interacted with the other horses, I went over to Simon, who didn’t run away and even let me pet him. I have no idea why, but I was the only person there he wouldn’t shy away from. Making friends with a horse definitely made up for not riding one earlier in the day. After saying our goodbyes (Simon got an extra one from me), we headed back to the city. I’ve never been much of a country person, but I think my opinion may have changed after today.
Watch the videos of our trip!