SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – Technology and scientific advances changed the world dramatically over the past 50 years. Except in the world of horseback riding, where Barbara Lindsay of Echo Farm in South Salem has been teaching young riders methods which are virtually identical to those she used when she started in the 1960s.
“There have not been a lot of changes,’’ said Lindsay, who works with riders from age 7 on up. “The kids are always easier to teach than the adults. I should’ve taken psychology courses in college. Really, it’s a lot about the people. The horses are easy.”
Lindsay started riding as a young girl in her native Venezuela, where her father was a friend of the cavalry military officers.
“We kept our horse in the barracks,’’ she said. “I rode every day. My mom was very good in teaching me how to ride, but she was also very concerned with safety. A lot of the lessons I learned from my mother are things that I still teach to my students.”
Lindsay competed in dressage and jumpers in Venezuela, and was one of the first women in the United States to be asked to try out for the United States Equestrian team in eventing. She started teaching when her instructor, George Morris, said he needed another trainer.
“I had never thought about that,’’ Lindsay said. “But it worked out fine and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Lindsay taught out of her own barn before coming to Echo Farm seven years ago. She has encountered a broad spectrum of riders, from the timid souls who are afraid to saddle up to would-be wild cowboys who think there’s nothing more to riding than getting on the horse and going fast.
“I think the people who have some fear are harder to teach,’’ Lindsay said. “If they are really scared it just takes longer. But I’ve had other people that I’ve had to hold back a little bit.”
Lindsay does not ride any more, but she’s still able to get her message across to her students. She has even been active with the Interscholastic Equestrian Association, which introduces children in public and private schools from grades 6-12 to equestrian sports.
“It’s a great program because you don’t have to own your own horse,’’ Lindsay said. “You go to a show, and you draw the name of the horse out of a hat. That gets the rider a lot of experience with a lot of different horses.”
The program brings out the best in Lindsay and her young riders. They start with riding fundamentals and work up to more difficult and advanced skills.
“A lot of kids and their families can’t afford a horse,’’ Lindsay said. “They get to compete, and it brings everyone to the same level. The good thing is it’s a team concept. Everybody roots for everybody. It’s very satisfying to see them progress from year to year. You get so proud of them.”