I was a very very very very lucky kid! I got to ride several dozen horses and ponies in my childhood. I have never kept count but I am sure I have sat on around 100 different horses. And thousands more I have been near, around, watched, interacted with, etc.
Most people won’t own 50 horses or have their kid go work for horse trainers/etc.
But, you CAN provide this type of life experience for them in lesson programs.
HOW HORSE RELATIONSHIPS TEACH US ABOUT HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS
In human relationships, it’s important to meet MANY people right? To interact with, get taught by, be friends with all sorts of personality types? Because, life is varied. College professors will all be different. Work colleagues will be various personalities. Boyfriends/girlfriends, all different.
It’s a personal goal of mine that my kids date A LOT instead of getting in early relationships and sticking with someone without even knowing what else might be out there that their own personality type might do better (or worse) with.
Such it is with lesson horses. There is so much to be gained learning how to ride/handle horsES, not just A horse.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO LEARN IN RIDING LESSONS?
Many students focus on what they want to do each ride. They want to canter and jump, or whatever it is. Then they might get disappointed if, because of the horse’s energy that day, they only get to walk and trot.
As the parent, ask yourself, what do you TRULY want your child to learn by riding horses? Yes, you want them to have fun and do as much as they can, but, in life, would you want them to disregard intuition and do more than what they should just because they want to and then potentially get hurt?
And what’s more, don’t we all want our children to be kind and in tune with the needs of others rather than just themselves?
On the flip side, do you want them to stay on a school horse where they have plateaued in learning, when other horses are pushing them out of their comfort zone?
WHAT THE INSTRUCTORS TRY TO DO FOR THE STUDENTS AND HORSES
As an instructor, there is no perfect formula for making the right horse choices all the time, but we do try our best, pay attention to the cues of each rider and horse and rider and horse PAIRING and will make the best decisions we can.
Sometimes, when a pairing doesn’t mesh right away, we will continue on, as we know that what can be gained is what both horse and rider are ready for and it will be an ultimately positive journey.
Then sometimes, when a pairing doesn’t mesh, or a pairing that has happened for a while has taken a turn for the worse, we will change it, when we sense that it will only go in a downhill direction for the rider, or the horse. We’ll back up, fill in foundation holes, work on certain anxieties, etc with the goal of going back to that horse in the future.
LESSON HORSES ARE DA BOMB!!!!!
I’d like to again, stress what an INCREDIBLE blessing that is for you/your kid. That there is an opportunity for multiple experiences and relationships with horses.
School horses all deserve the highest honors.
Imagine what it’s like for the school horses. They are non-vocal, sentient, energy sensitive, herd animals. And they get to encounter multiple energies, anxieties, attitudes, personalities, cues, riding abilities and knowledge/skill sets daily. Wow. I just got overwhelmed with appreciation for my school horses. What a working ranch horse puts in in physical effort each day, the school horse matches or exceeds that in mental and emotional effort each day, and they are working physically too.
In conclusion to you, parents:
No matter what kind of experience your kid has in each lesson, encourage the fact that they are learning life skills. That your agenda doesn’t always go according to plan, and that learning to be adaptable, and learning to listen to the needs of others is more valuable than learning heels down at the canter. Yes, most often those are the types of things we work on. But, 100%… learning to ride horses is learning how to communicate (two-way!) and be the leader of a different species. Period.
In conclusion to you, students:
You are so so so so so so so so so blessed to be able to ride multiple horses. You might be jealous of a kiddo who owns a horse. And that could still be a noble goal of yours to have your own. But, until that happens, you need to REALIZE what a unique opportunity you have to ride more than one horse. Even to be able to ride one horses in lessons is MORE than most kids get. Got that? Let me repeat. Many kids are jealous of you, that you even get to take horse lessons. So, as you’re busy wishing you had more and better in lessons and horse ownership and shows, there are those out there wishing they were you. So, please stop what you’re doing right now and say, “I’m thankful.” I, Leslie, am pretty good at riding ANY horse, because of the opportunities I had my whole life to ride ANY horse. Yeah??? Your agenda should be to bond with ALL horses, and to learn from each and every second of your time with any horse you get paired with.