While I’m away from uni on what seems to be a never-ending summer holiday, I’ve been working at a local riding school, doing yard work like mucking out and making feeds, and getting ponies ready for lessons. I don’t teach or help out in lessons leading like I used to when I was just volunteering, which in my eyes is a good thing because running around with slow ponies and bouncy kids isn’t the most fun! However last Monday it was back to leading, and I got a taste of what it’s like teaching someone the first steps of learning to ride.
The owners of the riding school have always been very involved in foster children and there are often children staying with them and on the yard. On this particular day they were having a day for foster children where they could come and have a picnic and have pony rides. Everyone seemed to have great fun but there was one boy in particular who stood out to me.
For this purpose, I’ll call him A. A was about seven or eight, and turned up in his shorts and baseball cap, keen for a ride. I got him grooming a pony and then found him a hat and riding boots and got him on board. A told me he’d ridden a pony once before, but it was really scary so he was a bit worried. I kept him on a lead rein the whole time, even though he was on the steadiest pony there is, but thought him how to hold his reins properly, how to shorten them so he could feel the pony and the pony could feel him, and showed him how to steer. A girl who was there on work experience put some jump blocks along the school to weave in and out, and A was steering the pony all by himself, weaving in and out of blocks, stopping and walking on again.
When I asked A if he wanted to trot, he didn’t know what it was. I explained that like people will walk, jog and run a horse will walk, trot and canter, so trot would be a little faster and a bit bouncier than walk, did he want to have a go? He was up for anything, of course he did! I got him to hold onto the front of the saddle, give the pony a kick and off we went, giggling along the long side of the school, beaming smile on his face! He wanted another go before he got off, but boy was he a natural, with a sitting trot I was almost jealous of! I’m sure with a few lessons he’d make a great rider!
He wanted another ride after lunch but I had to leave before then so didn’t get to see if he got another go or not. But I felt pleased that he had had a good time and had learnt something during his day out.