Thursday, June 2, 2011

The first rides

One of my favorite things to do (other than riding, of course) is to give beginner rider lessons. I've never done it as a major source of income but the time I did spend giving lessons regularly I loved it. I prefer teaching the young kids, the ones who are just learning and are so very excited to just be on a horse. I get to form the basics, the building blocks and the confidence that they will build on for the rest of their riding lives.

I've recently been giving occasional lessons to a friend's five-year-old daughter and it is so much fun. I'm remembering how much fun I had teaching a small group of kids (all under 10) weekly and I'm kind of missing it a bit.

She is riding Chief (the Saint) and she has been just thrilled to death with the half hour or so of horse time. She doesn't care if we just walk around, walk over cavaletti or stand there talking about horses and riding. Her enthusiasm is infectious and I absolutely love seeing the light bulbs go off in her head when she figures out something new then works to master one task at a time. I'm a huge proponent of making games out of the lessons at this age and not just teaching riding, but horse care, grooming, tacking, safety, handling, parts of the horse and care of equipment. With the heat of summer fast upon us, our next lesson may be in horse bathing.

At this age everything about the horses should be fun, not a tedious chore that must be done, and she sure is having fun and building confidence as we go. She's still on the lead line at this point but I think in the next lesson or two I'll let her take control and see how that goes. It's the first time off the line that is the most thrilling and telling: Will she take to her new leadership role with confidence or will she be timid and let him do what he wants? It's that first time off the line that often gives a pretty clear picture about what a rider will most likely be like as she grows and learns: A leader? A follower? Confident or timid?

When my daughter first went off the line I knew immediately what kind of person and rider she'd be and she has so far fulfilled every expectation I formed during that first lead-free ride: She's a leader who tends to be very confident, a daredevil willing to try anything once, but a compassionate and caring rider who won't ask more from her horse than she thinks he can do.

Tonight I hope to ride Gabe...between the rain and trying to keep up with school, work and farmwork, my riding has been getting pushed to the back burner. It's been nearly a month since I last rode, and that just won't do. Not at all.


  1. I used to give beginner riding lessons too and I loved it. I loved teaching the basics and building their confidence in the saddle.

    I especially loved that my OTTB was a saint for little riders on the lead line. He took extra special care of his passengers when he knew they were tiny! They got a kick out of the fact he was a "real live race horse!" and one little girl said "Mom he made a MILLION dollars!!" he didn't but she was so proud of him!

  2. I love giving the little ones their first ride too. My stallion Beamer is such a sweetheart that I can put kids on him with the lead line for their first ride, and they are excited to tell their friends that they rode a black stallion. If he was a gelding he would have made a super kids horse. Hopefully his sons will be.

  3. Oh Jen! You sound so wonderful. Any child will certainly grow in leadership and confidence by having you start them in lessons! Your complete passion and joy-sure came through!

    Hope your Gabe boy was happy to be riding with you!

  4. Looking forward to taking the "daredevil" mountain riding soon! How' the hay situation? Any cutting going on yet?

  5. goodtimetoreview...those saints are worth their weight in gold, that's for sure. Chief knows when there's a beginner on his back...he walks slower and actually seems to keep an eye on them. fun for them to have such a great memory of riding a black stallion! Beamer is a pretty special guy anyway.

    Allhorsestuff...all I hope is to be able to pass on that love of horses to them, if I achieve that my job is done.

    Kathy...she keeps asking when she gets to come see you! The hay situation is under control. I have 250 bales on reserve, all I have to do is go pick them up. The hay guy doesn't want to store them, he would rather I take them all at once and make payments on it.