Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Horseback Riding - a Change of Venue

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The girls have enjoyed their initial riding lessons this past winter, but it turns out they were a little disappointed they weren't riding Western style. They've also grown a bit tired of the teacher's method - walking in circles ... for weeks now.

When we volunteered at Return to Freedom Mustang Sanctuary a few weeks back, I realized the girls hadn't learned some important basics. Though they've been riding, they don't know how to catch, halter, lead or tack their horses. Now, they're too small to catch just any ol' horse, and both are too short to halter an unwilling horse. But both should know how to lead. It's a basic necessity.

Imagine, if you will, girls out riding the trail or on ranch land, or just around a park or paddock. The horse shies, a girl falls off. If she's lucky, the horse won't take off and she'll be able to pick up the reins. But then what? Oh, sure, she'd figure it out probably, but wouldn't it be easier (and more important - safer) if someone planned for this eventuality in advance and taught her how to lead their horse to a safe spot for remounting?

Today we tried out a teacher who focuses on Western skills. She's a competitive barrel racer and team penner. She regularly takes part in cattle drives. And the first thing she taught the girls was how to safely lead their horses to the round pen where they started their first lesson before moving on to the paddock, and finally out to an open field. The girls also learned to back their horses and showed more control over their horses than they've been allowed since Nebraska.

The teacher said she was surprised how well they did, particularly that they weren't afraid to be up on the tall horses. Thanks, Bob & Celeste, for providing that first "tall horse" experience while we were visiting you!

And thanks, Grandparents, who made these lessons financially possible.

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  1. Grandparents are the best! Good job girls!

  2. Just looking at them on the horses makes me a bit scared, but I have never really been comfortable around the big brutes. I'm glad they have the love for horses like you. Very lucky girls to have the lessons.


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