Saturday, February 16, 2013

Beginners again!

In two weeks I'll start giving beginner riding lessons again. It's been years since I've done beginner lessons but I'm actually looking forward to it. The rider is a 7-year-old girl who is absolutely horse crazy. She's been riding Lou (our pony) for a few weeks now, under the supervision of Jacquie, but, with Jacquie leaving for her new job in Colorado, I'll take over the lessons.

I gave Jacquie her beginner/intermediate lessons many, many moons ago so it's been kind of neat watching her give lessons and hearing some of the same things I taught her come out of her mouth. So, I know the kiddo has a good solid start, and with her enthusiasm, I think she'll be fun to teach.

Today, I managed to convince Kayleigh (my daughter) to get up on Calypso just to ride around the arena a bit and that turned into an hour-long lesson which she seemed to enjoy. Usually, she's done after 15 minutes. She enjoyed it so much, that at the end of her lesson she said "Mom, you're a really good teacher!" *shock face!* And, she asked when we could do it again, even suggesting that we start doing a lesson every Saturday. *double shock face!* I've never given her proper, formal lessons before because every time I tried, it ended up with her arguing with me about some thing or another (I seem to remember doing the same thing to my mom when she tried to give me riding lessons), so, I stopped trying. I didn't want to turn riding into an argument with her and make it a miserable experience.

But today was different. She did start out arguing a bit at first. Mostly, the arguing is in the form of her saying "I AM!" when I try to tell her how to do something (ie, heels down, or, sit up straight, or grab mane if you feel off balance, not the rein, etc.), then, she gets huffy and I get frustrated and it goes downhill quickly from there. The arguing ended quickly today when I explained to her that I wouldn't tell her to do something or change something if she was already doing it correctly. She listened and followed my instructions and lo and behold, the mare did EXACTLY what Kayleigh asked her to do. She seemed to get excited when I showed her a few"tricks" that she could get Calypso to do if she just used her body in the right way, like getting her to take bigger, longer walking strides just using her seat, or slowing her down or halting her by "walking" her seatbones slower or stopping them entirely, all done without using the reins or her calves. I showed her how to do a turn on the forehand and showed her that Calypso can spin on a dime if she uses her aids correctly. I helped her find her seatbones, which I never realized she had no idea were there!

So, it was all good, and we both ended the lesson on a very positive note, which I am quite excited about.

I'd like to keep riding exciting and fun for both girls during lessons (no one wants to ride endless circles or drills, BORING), and while I do have a few "fun" lesson plans up my sleeves that I've used before with success, I hope you guys can give me some more ideas to keep the lessons fun. Games? Obstacle courses? I'm open to anything!


  1. I cracked up when you said you heard your words coming from Jacquie. That must have felt really good!
    The only things that come to mind, things that I've seen used in therapeutic riding, include putting 5" diameter rings on the rider's toes to encourage toes up/heels down, balancing Beanie babies on the rider's shoulder to encourage sitting up straight and putting playing cards, or occasionally dollar bills, under knees, thighs or butt.

  2. Oops, forgot to add that you are on target with games and obstacle courses - a variety of activities to help them steer and stop, and still have fun. The therapeutic kids also liked playing with a large die. They'd throw it and could only move that many steps - great start/stop and counting... and feeling the horse

  3. Oooh, those are excellent ideas! I love the rings/beanie babies idea. I'll bet I could make a big die, too, that would be fun. I found an idea that uses a foam ball and a bucket. The kid has to toss the ball in the bucket from the horse, and, if she misses, dismount, get the ball, mount back up and try again. Good mounting/dismounting practice and working on control/balance. :)

    Keep 'em coming. I love this.

  4. Wonderful Jenn! So glad you're going to do the lessons and yes, networking is a great place to start! You just never know what might turn up. And GREAT BIG thumbs up for connecting with your daughter!! Whoohoo - that is an accomplishment!! :) I'm sure most of us can remember arguing with our moms just because. If the same things came out of a different instructor's mouth, she wouldn't be arguing, she'd just try harder. You know how it goes... so again, Congratulations!! Love it.