Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Love Connection

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.


Catherine said...

KC, what a fantastic post! I loved "experiencing" Madeleine's lesson through your words and pictures. What a special day for all of you (Topaz included). Madeleine is as cute as cute can be! (I want her pink coat!) Arliss is a lucky mommy. And thanks for putting out those early pictures of you. You were/are adorable as well.

Catherine said...

P.S. I'm having some General Foods International French Vanilla Cafe coffee in my TMF travel mug right now and feeling very sophisticated. I gotta say, also, that my tote is my new favorite thing. It fits a ton of work stuff, which I "tote" back and forth between home and work - ha.

Aislinn said...

Cat, you are a bonified Thunder Moon Goon, you are.

KC, the pics of Madeleine are adorable, and you, little Miss Dale Evans herself, are precious! You were obviously a natural from the word go...or gallop.

Jane said...

Great post, KC! Congrats to you, Topaz, Madeline & Arliss. And a cybercarrot for Zeus, of course. :)

Cynthia D said...

Madeleine is a darling. I can't wait to meet her and her mom.

Thunder Moon is such a wonderful place, with such wonderful folks! I can't wait to be back!

Catherine said...

Thunder Moon Goon...love that.

KC said...

Thanks everyone! I am excited to see how Madeleine progresses - I think she's going to be a great little rider.

Cat - I love the merchandise plug! Don't you feel fancy with a faboo mug? And tote? You made TMF bi-coastal!

Jane - duly noted - Zeus will get a carrot and a message that it's from you! Give one to Pascal for me!

Aislinn - when I was little, I was crazy. Fearless. But mostly crazy. That explains a lot.