Monday, July 11, 2011

Riding Lesson Surprises

 With all the chaos that summer brings, we haven't been able to get Kelly started with riding lessons at the place she evaluated (and which evaluated her) in June.

I was finally able to squeeze her in to a 'group intermediate' lesson yesterday.

I was happy to discover, when we got there, that Kelly was pretty much the only pupil at first.  She went with two other older girls (who turned out to be the teacher's aides) to get the horses, and I was surprised to see them only bring 2 horses into the tack-up area.  At first, I supposed that the other horses were already ready, but it turned out that the 'group' was just two students.  And the second student didn't show up for nearly the first half hour of the lesson.  Kelly got a LOT of one-on-one time with both the instructor and the aides, who are these super wonderful teenage girls who love horses, and want others to love horses, too.
After going through the paces a bit, the teacher took the two students up to the jumping arena.  The other student had been taking lessons for 3 years, so I guess it was time for Kelly to step up. (although, just between you, me, and the lamp-post, I think she was holding her own against the other girl.  But that could just be the proud stage mother in me rearing her ugly head)

Kelly's always wanted to jump.
Kelly's never had the chance.
This was her first actual lesson.

The teacher said "Let's start you off with getting used to how jumping works."
Kelly's grin nearly split her face in half.  I could see it across the arena.

So they trotted around the arena.  And then they came up to where the jump would be.  There was a bar on the ground.  The horse had to walk up to it, and step over it. (this is something that all the trail horses that Kelly had ridden previously could either not do, or barely do.  Stepping over an obstacle is pretty scary for a horse).  Kelly was worried that her horse would spook or shy, but she just walked up to the bar, and stepped over it like it wasn't there.

Then they took the bar at a trot.  Once again, Kelly's horse just trotted up to it, and trotted over it like it wasn't there.  Kelly was beaming.

I think this is "officially" Kelly's first jump ever.  The horse actually did a little 'bloop', and there was some holding on that had to be done.

Then they took the bar, and they made it into a wee little jump.

And I learned a little bit about teaching jumping.  See where the two bars make the X?  There's a little black dot.  it's a small pile of dirt.  What you do is you focus on that little pile of dirt as soon as you round the corner and line up on the jump, and you don't take your eyes off of it until it disappears between your horse's ears.   That's how you aim your horse.  It's cool.

So Kelly trotted around the arena, and headed for the jump.  And the horse saw the jump, and broke from a trot into a canter as soon as she rounded the corner.  Kelly looked a little surprised, but just held on, and tried to hold her back.

But I guess Stitch is a jumper at heart.  And she wanted to show Kelly what she could do.
And she didn't 'bloop' over that wee jump.
She took it like a champion....

(I just wanted to blow it up so you could see her look of total shock and surprise)

And this is where I was proud of myself for not being THAT kind of mom.  Because Kelly came out of her stirrups, and three strides later, she slid off the horse, down to the ground.

So not only did she experience her first jump, she also experienced her first fall, too.  Her teacher was so surprised that it was her first fall ever.  But I guess there's a first time for everything.

I suppose I would have rushed in to go help her out, but I had a rented lens on my camera, and that sucker's worth a fortune, and I was standing in the bushes, and there was no safe place to put it down.
At least that's my story.  And I'm sticking to it.

That way, I could keep shooting.
See?  She's OK!

And she got right back up on that horse.

And today, she'll be rocking the heating pad and ice packs.

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