Thursday, October 06, 2011

lessons in riding, 10

Earlier this week the pony's lesson was cancelled at the last minute, so instead of putting him back in the paddock I decided to work with him myself. We did a little lunging, a little in-hand work, some leading, walking, trotting, halting, leg yielding, and we ended with something my daughter has taught him: if you walk up to the mounting block and tap it with the whip, he will put his hoof there. This is something he's done in the past, most of the time when she was on his back, and not too long ago she transformed it into something he will do on cue. There's no real purpose to it, but he seems to enjoy it, so I gave him a chance to practice.

I'm learning that the Little Man is not completely heartbroken now that my daughter is not riding him. He has a few lessons with young/beginning riders a week, and I'm working with him on the ground to make sure he's tuned up and listens well when the young riders are here. I feel we've gotten "closer" since this all started in August. He is far more tuned in to me than he's been in the past few years.

I hope my daughter continues to work with him. He dearly loves her and I know he misses her. But right now he has the distinction of introducing some new little riders to the world of ponies, and he seems to know that it's an important job and one he is quite good at doing. I've been careful to make sure the experience is good for him. There is no tugging on his mouth, no kicking him on (we use the words tap or gently squeeze), and no banging around on his back, as I am teaching the sitting trot first, then two-point, then posting. The sitting trot is being done with a thick bareback pad with a Thinline pad underneath, and only for the number of strides the child can sit (way more than beginning adults can, I assure you!) comfortably.

I've put regular chiropractic adjustments back on his schedule so I can make sure things stay clear as we do this work.

He is teaching me that it's possible to do two things well - help a young beginning rider have a good, safe, experience, and do it with complete regard and respect for the pony.

Later in the day Keil Bay and I had a ride. We did a lot of walking and some tuning up with reference to whisper-quiet aids. I focused in on his movement, gauging how things are going for him and making sure we were doing things like tracking up, moving with relaxation and rhythm, etc. After our ride, it turned into the right time to do his annual "sport cut," which is a fancy name for me taking the scissors to his mane. Once the heat of summer is past, I always cut the manes down to the neck, as I love the way the horses (and the pony) look. It's also nice to see how the muscling is doing and they all seem to perk up when I do it. By spring they all have nice manes again so that going into summer they can use the manes to shake off flies, etc.

And I ended this beautiful horsey day with a lesson on Cody. My husband is thinking about joining the neighborhood "dad" brigade who are doing some trail riding, and (I think) we agree that before he does this he needs some lessons. What did I learn? We need wider stirrups, a new saddle, and maybe an instructor who is not the student's wife. :)

P/S: I want to thank Arlene from Grey Horse Matters for the lovely blog award! I have sadly narrowed down the blogs I read each day to a very small number, most of which have already received this award, so I will suggest you go to GHM and follow the links to all the blogs she's listed. Hopefully they will have links to more great blogs, and you can expand your reading exponentially! 


Grey Horse Matters said...

Cody sounds like a good match for your husband and his "dad" trail rides. All good ideas for getting him outfitted comfortably. A new trainer...not a bad idea. I guess giving lessons to a husband would be like a husband trying to teach a wife to drive a car. Not a good mix. Ha!

Keil Bay sounds awesome as usual. Glad you had a nice ride.

I'm sure Little Man misses your daughter but probably loves the attention from the little riders. It's good that you're making sure he's treated fairly and in turn teaching another generation how to ride and treat a horse properly. Good for you and them.

No problem about the award. Just like your blog so much thought you deserved one. Have a great weekend.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Teaching a s.o. to ride sounds dangerously similar to teaching one how to drive a manual transmission - yikes!

Lovely post about your happy horses. :)

billie said...

A, we did okay as husband/wife student/instructor but I did note some ignoring of my requests! LOL!

billie said...

C, so good to see you here again - hope things are picking up - decreased mosquitoes, move near its end, etc.

ponymaid said...

billie - you live in a world of calm and sensitivity to the other residents needs. I can only imagine the serenity of it all. Last night She gave me hay with a bird dwelling concealed in it. I refused to eat it and was consumed with violent hunger pangs all night. You would never do this sort of insensitive thing, I know.

billie said...

Sheaffer! I would have thought donkeys might find a bird dwelling a sort of connoisseur's treat - what is it called in the French... an amuse bouche??? Is that right?

I know it sounds serene when I write it, but believe me, the level of chaos here at times makes my head spin. This morning, for example, we had a minor circus act going on, which I will write about soon.

Also we had a wild coyote party in the forest beyond our hill last night, which caused me huge distress but appeared to have no effect on equines.

You know you are always welcome here if you need a break. I suspect you would soon discover that "grass is greener" statement to be a misnomer. We try valiantly to please but alas, I fall short on a daily basis. Just ask Keil Bay!!!

Matthew C. said...

Thank you for the lesson. I really do appreciate it.

Máire said...

What a good idea to teach sitting trot first. I am sure the pony is enjoying a new sense of purpose with these lessons.

Good luck teaching your husband! I am not sure I would dare to teach mine....

billie said...

Matthew, I notice you have not asked for a second one though! :)

billie said...

Children are so good at sitting the trot if you teach them to put their bodies in the right position. I figured it's best to build on that and get them nice and secure and balanced. It's not a new idea but it's fairly unusual for beginner riding lessons, I think.