Ariel and I cleaned Fred up and just talked about mules and equine safety. Something I usually do with kids near these large animals.
Ariel has ridden on and off since she was pretty small.
We started working on riding in 2008 with my mule Badger.
Badger left our world in 2012 and we sort of let things go by the wayside.
We didn't have extended periods of time with the kids and so we really didn't have enough time to really get into riding.
At Grandma & Grandpa Camp in 2014 everyone got a ride on Fred.
And Fred seemed to take to being with kids very well.
Fast forward to the present.
We worked hours on balanced and calm riding with quiet hands and gentle hands. Towards the end of this ride Ariel started to hold the reins.
"Ride like you are a ballerina, with poise and confidence at all times." I told her. "You are a dancer on top of a very powerful animal who is willing to take his cues from you. If you are relaxed, he will relax."
In a round pen or small paddock, I've gotten Fred to 'heel' me off a lead rope. I showed this to Ariel yesterday. I walked along and made serpentines as he heeled at my shoulder. Fred stopped when I stopped, he stepped out when I stepped out. He backed up when I backed up.
Again I made a reference to working with animals and dancing. "It is a dance between partners. Fred is my partner," I told her, "He knows to mimic my movements."
Ariel watched for a bit and then said, "Siera does this for you too!"
Indeed Siera does.
Then we started working on light hands and reining. Ariel is extremely calm with animals. It shows in this shot where Fred decides to cry out and bray for his mule buddies.
She waits it out unfazed and continues riding.
We move outside as Fred gets bored with the round pen. Mules do get bored and need a challenge.
We practice mounting/dismounting and emergency stops and dismounts.
Ariel nails all of it quite well and we move to riding in the larger winter paddock.
The next step after another warm up and review will be fun. I will get Siera and we will ride the paddock together.