A special bond exists between a horse and its rider.
Unlike the relationship between a dog and his master, one built on obedience, the relationship between a horse and rider is one built on trust and cooperation.
“It's a partnership. You understand each other,” said Heidi Henderson. “You have to work together.”
Henderson has been riding for several years and just started volunteering with the Denver Equestrians, a horseback riding school operating at the former Normandy Farms on West Coal Mine Avenue.
If a rider is nervous or distracted, the horse will know. A rider’s stray thoughts about a business meeting later in the day might prompt the steed to send her flying.
“It forces you to slow down and find that peaceful place,” said Corinne Lettau, owner of Denver Equestrians. “There's no texting on horseback.”
Lettau, who grew up in a city, fell in love with horses at an early age.
“I'd do anything to get on a horse,” she said, recalling how she cleaned stalls to pay for some time in the saddle.
Lettau, whose life centered on horses from an early age, is now a trainer and riding teacher. Yet she almost gave up riding when her horse died from a broken neck a few years ago.
After the horse died, she sold all of her gear. But as a tribute to that horse, she posted his story on Facebook. A woman in Texas reached out to Lettau and said she wanted to give Lettau a yearling.
To pay for his boarding, Lettau started teaching riding lessons. Then, last year, Lettau started Denver Equestrians.
The group uses donated horses that come from people who can't afford to care for them anymore, former racers who didn't have the right stuff, and good-tempered rescued horses.
During an open house Dec. 15 at the stables in Littleton, Lettau answered questions from a student, 12-year-old Jacara Pope, about how the horses the girl had ridden last fall were doing.
“I like them so much, and I want to remember them,” Jacara said.
“She was very nervous at first,” said Amy Pope, Jacara's mother. (But) after she rode the first time, she had this big, bright smile on her face.”
Jacara went to the open house yet didn't take advantage of the free horse rides. She just wanted to visit her friends on a Saturday.
Contact Ramsey Scott at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.