Friday, January 16th, 2015

This so reflects our barn and lesson horses…

The Poor Amateur's Almanac

Before riders are jumping 3’6″ and riding Prix de St-Georges, before they are working horses that cost a year at Yale, before they are showing for weeks in Florida and New York and California, equestrians must ride a lesson horse. Every single horseback rider on the face of this earth has that one pony ride, that one led ride around an arena or on a hot walker or through a pasture that hooked them on this sport. Every rider can attest their passion for riding to that one old horse who had the patience of a saint and carried children as though they were faberge eggs.

Riders competing at the top level can turn horses with their legs and their seat. They can ask a horse to extend their canter stride to fourteen feet and collect it down to nine. They can lift the horse into a proper frame so…

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It’s the first riding sessions of the new year. The riders were excited to be back in spite of the cold temperatures. This year I decided to start the year asking about goals.

“Goals?” asked one six-year old.

“Yes, what would you like to do this year.”

“Go to Cedar Point. We couldn’t last year because my brother broke his leg.”

Jenna trots ButtercupOops! I need to be more specific. So I rephrased it to focus on horseback riding. The answer came back very clear. “Keep riding all year!”

Got it.

Next class the riders were older, but just to be safe I rephrased the question to focus on horseback riding.

“Canter!” shouted the first rider.

“Good for you, but we need to make the goal something we can do by the show. How about post the trot around the arena.”

“Ride with a bit,” said the second.

Now we are getting it.

After the classes I started to think about how many times we set goals for ourselves that are too aggressive. We end up falling short and feeling like we failed.

In our riding classes our curriculum follows a pedagogy that builds on previous success as we challenge our riders to achieve. We like to think of it as No Rider Left Behind. Every rider should be able to say, “Yes! I can!” when presented with a new skill because they know it is achievable.

Now that the riders know where they are heading, I need to think of my goals as an instructor. Better examples, more exercises, and, of course, lots of fun in every riding session.

How about you? Do you have riding goals for 2013?

Crapo Park - Holly MichiganThe Holly Outdoor Recreation Coalition held its 2nd Annual Community Play Day yesterday in Crapo Park.

The weather was picture perfect and it was great to see families participating in the activities that various local organizations /were providing. One group was holding a tug-of-war! I can’t remember the last time I saw kids (and parent) doing that activity.

Pretty Pony Pastures was there. We would have LOVED to bring one of our horses, but decided against it. Instead we brought four stick horses and traffic cones.

The kids had a riot barrel (or in this case – cone) racing with the stick ponies! Most of them did their own pattern, but, that’s what having fun is all about. A couple of our riders and their parents came to help, so it was great to have these kids showing the other kids how to barrel race.

Riding a Stick Pony    







This Community Play Day was such a great idea – well organized and fun. Hope everyone who attended enjoyed it as much as we did.