It's an absolutely dismal day here in Wingdale. It is pouring buckets, the horses are in (much to their dismay) and did I mention it's pouring? Buckets. Teeming. Deluge.
Anyway, before the Monsoon began, I had a special lesson to teach on Sunday. Madeleine is 6 years old (almost 7), and it was her first riding lesson ever! I felt honored to show this little girl how fun riding can be.
One of the big philosophies I have when teaching, is to teach from the ground up. I think it's important to teach all aspects of horsemanship, including grooming, tacking up, and general care. I don't think it's a complete experience if you just plunk the student on the horse and say, "Ok, go!"
That actually reminds me of the time Matt took me skiing. That's exactly what we did. Up the ski lift, at the top of the hill, he said, "Ok, go!"
Horses I can handle. Two sticks attached to my feet and two poles, snow and a hill...disaster.
Madeleine, however, was fantastic.
Here we are in the stall with Topaz before the lesson. I'm pointing out the reins, saddle, bridle, all that good stuff. And as you can see, Madeleine looks a little intimidated by this 1000 lb. furry creature she was about to sit on.
Once we got her up into the saddle, we were off!
Here I am showing her some general leg and body position. Typically, it takes new riders a few months to understand the "heels down" concept, because it goes against everything they're used to in other sports or dance.
Madeleine, however, "got it." Immediately. I was so impressed.
What makes it tougher, is I teach children with no stirrup irons. That's right, their feet are in....nothing. How come, you ask?
Because when I was little, I learned to ride like this.
That is when I began to be called "Wild Woman." It's ok, you can click on the photo to blow up to a larger size. Check out my hair. Hotness. That's Cowboy, by the way. If you look closely, you can see that I'm going at a pretty good clip, and have no stirrups. That's because at the working ranch we would vacation at every year, they only had adult sized saddles, and, well, my legs were anything but adult size.
Sometimes I'd just skip the saddle and bridle altogether.
(Note: Very very bad that I was not wearing a helmet, although in the 80's, those were different times. You will never catch me helmetless today.)
What ended up happening was I developed a very good sense of balance and natural seat, because I didn't have a choice - if I didn't, I was a goner.
So that's the very long story about why I teach kids with no stirrups.
Back to Madeleine.
Sunday was really a "getting to know you" session, where she got to know Topaz, how she feels, and doing the basics - walking, stopping, turning. By the end of the lesson, Madeleine was controlling Topaz 100% by herself.
This photo is one that a trainer like me loves to get. It's a moment of connection between Madeleine and I - just sharing a smile, and a mutual understanding. Topaz of course, was loving all the girly attention and was very happy to be in the loop.
Towards the end of the lesson, lovely mom Arliss popped into the ring for a few photos.
That's why I teach. Happiness is found on the back of a horse.
But you know, Zeus felt left out. So Madeleine kindly went and gave him a carrot after dismounting Topaz.
Keep an eye out during the Olympics in 2028. You just might see Madeleine.