I had a request by a reader to write something about learning to ride and riding safety which are both very good topics to write about.
This entry will be a bit about what my impressions are about 'learning to ride.'
Let me say first off that although I do ride quite a bit, I am no expert at teaching riding.
However for 4 years I was involved in a 4H program where I was a leader for our group for the Horseless Horse Group.
Children who did not own a horse, got to 'borrow one' and use that horse to show at the County Fair at the end of the year.
The children spent all spring and summer preparing for their 15 minutes of walking and trotting in front of a judge.
They also learned showmanship as it was mandatory for all horse showing.
The learning was done in an enclosed area. I didn't have a riding arena, so we had a section of pasture that was roped off.
The first part to learning to ride is getting to know the animal. I usually started with body parts and grooming.
Next came all the saddle parts and tack uses.
In riding, one uses the tack, the saddle, and their entire body to communicate to the equine they are riding.
It is not a process that is learned immediately.
It takes time and practice.
It is amazing at how well certain animals will behave around children.
In my life I have been blessed with some incredible equine.
There was Red, an ugly quarter-mix gelding who was probably Mr. Bombproof. He was in the Horseless Horse Program for 4 years.
I had Cheyanne, who was not a 'child' horse, but worked with kids very well in an arena setting. She took many older-young riders to blue ribbons in the fairs.
There was Badger the mule.
Big and Gentle.
There is Fred. Old and wise. He is always willing to work quietly with youngsters.
There is no trick to learning to ride.
It takes time and patience to learn to balance on a moving, living, breathing animal.
My uncle taught us to ride bareback. In the 60's there were no safety helmets. We learned by eventually getting a sense of balance.
Each summer we'd ride for hours and hours. Sometimes so long that our legs would be incredibly sore the next day.
The photo above is of me on the pony when I was about 15 years old.
Note the bare feet and the twine string reins. My sister is on the horse next to me. She was riding Charlie Brown and I was riding Thunder.