Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Kiddie Table

I have never entertained the thought of not having riding lessons. However, I thought that my skills would improve quickly being able to ride with more experienced riders on a casual basis. Last summer, STA rode with me whenever she could. Her coaching was a tremendous help to me. But she started a new job that summer and her travel has increased making it difficult to schedule a routine ride. We try to get together at least once a month. My riding buddy, Jean, does not own a horse, but sometimes she does come out and ride with me.

Most adult riders at the stables ride much earlier in the day than I can. There is a small group, whose horses are boarded in the arena stalls (Gem is in the old barn), that get together regularly in the evenings and on the weekends. I am friendly with the Arena Gang, but unless I initiate it, an invitation to ride with them is not extended. They are always really nice to me when they see me, but I have come to realize that they just don't want to "babysit" me. It made me a little sad at first, but I can understand where they are coming from. So, I end up riding with the younger riders a lot.

Initially, I was a little embarrassed to be riding with the Young Ladies, but it has been great! I am always guaranteed company in the evening. There is no age discrimination when you love horses. The Young Ladies actually don't mind that I am older than their mothers - they think I'm cool. :-) Their average age is about 13 years old. They are courteous and patient with me, fun and know waaaaay more than I do. They love their horses and aren't shy about showing it. The Young Ladies all compete in reining and it's amazing what their horses can do. They don't mind me asking questions. A 12-year-old taught me how to a 90 degree turn! Imagine! They are always encouraging to each other, laughing and having fun. You can see the physical change in their horses as they pick up on the positive vibes. They get lighter on their feet, their bodies loosen up, they are almost dancing! Disciplining a horse is almost non-existent; there's no need to. The Young Ladies are fearless; we were comparing how many times we had fallen off our horses and one said she was into double digits!! Yikes!!

Riding in the arena with the Arena Gang is a bit different. The riders praise each other, but the displays of affection or praise towards the horses are fewer in number than with the younger riders. The energy level is not as light and fun. The horses don't dance. It is all business. The focus is a little more on what you are doing wrong. I was told I praise Gem too much. *sigh*

As usual, CH, RB and AT (aka Arena Gang) had arranged to meet and were just finishing their ride as I arrived at the arena. As I struggled to maneuver a mouthy, grumpy Gem around their horses, a comment was made that I was too nice to him and need to be tougher. *sigh*

So how is it that the Young Ladies can ask their horses to work willingly and happily without being "tough"? I want to learn their secret. The laughter, the lightness, the fun; does it really have to slip away when child turns to adult? The Young Ladies have helped me remember why I started riding in the first place. I recently started riding with a couple of other adult boarders. But, as long as they don't mind me hanging out with them, I am going to continue riding with the Young Ladies, too. I want to experience the laughter and energy that they exude for as long as I can. I want Gem to have opportunities to just be goofy. Yes, I am looking forward to experiencing my second childhood....bring it on, I say!!! :-)

What was I thinking....?


  1. Horses are the great equalizer. You ride with the folks who make you happy. If you can get more enjoyment from your time with Gem when accompanied by the Young Ladies, then girl, do it! I envy your courage.

  2. I only wish you could ride with my daughter and me. Our horses couldn't be goofier and we laugh a lot.

    I got so fed up listening to everybody's opinions on what or how I did things with my horses, I'm glad I'm not in a boarding situation anymore. I assumed they all thought they were better and more educated riders than myself when I started, turns out they didn't know much more than I did but being the new kid in class...well, some people just need to be superior to someone else to feel good about themselves.

    And don't listen to them about getting tough with Gem, do what you feel is best and hang out with the younger crowd you'll definitely have more fun and that's what it's all about.

  3. Hi Rachel and GHM! Thanks for your supportive comments. I appreciate them. The Young Ladies rock and I am hoping to get together with them later on in the week. :-)

  4. You can never praise a horse too much! Nor a human for that matter.

    I think when we age we get so caught up in agendas and rules that we forget to just plain live and smell the flowers. You learn that you have to do things the "right" way, even if that way really isn't right for you. Heaven forbid you should ever make a mistake!

    Ride with whomever makes you happy and don't be afraid to try new things. Oh yeah, and write about it so we can all join in!

  5. Bottom line - you have to be you. It's easy in the first years of horse ownership to get so much advice that you end up not having fun.

    I think I've gotten pretty close to that point.

    I'm hoping to learn something in the clinic I'm going to that will help me find a happy medium. You mentioned the number of times the Young Ladies had fallen - maybe the Arena Gang is tougher because they have more fear.

    If I find a balance, I'll let you know. In the meantime, dump that Arena Gang. They sound like a bunch of snooty patooties.


  6. Enjoy your horse and the people who make you feel good about yourself. We all have different goals with our horses.

  7. Good morning!

    Shannon - your comment "You learn that you have to do things the "right" way, even if that way really isn't right for you" hit home with me. I certainly want to learn the right way technically, but there are some things from a correction perspective that I am uncomfortable with. I am a pretty strong personality, so I am not easily coerced into doing something I don't want to. :-)

    Breath - I am finding it a little information overload! Filtering the advice is sometimes hard. ..."maybe the Arena Gang is tougher because they have more fear." Interesting comment. I think as we get older we get a little more afraid because we know what hurt is! :-) Please let me know how your clinic goes.

    Wilsonc - "We all have different goals with our horses." You are absolutely right. The Arena Gang is into amateur competing. I am not.

    Thanks, as always, for your comments!

  8. I love the way our horses bring all ages together, and it sounds to me as if the Young Ladies both have fun and are kind to their horses.
    When we turn into adults we get too bl**dy serious about things.
    Horses love to play around and have fun, and I believe we have to make the training enjoyable to our horses too.

    I think your instructor, LA, sounds like she knows what she's doing.
    I would stick to her advice, and if you need to train on something, why not make a repetition on what you did last session with her?
    Apart from that, enjoy your horse and have fun.

  9. Thanks, HoC! I have actually found that my riding has improved since I stopped riding with the Arena Gang. I am more relaxed. :-)