First riding lesson


V on small pony from Serena on Vimeo.
I found this video of V on her first pony ride. She was about one-and-a-half years old, and I was pregnant with O.

I’m sure there’s a horse-loving gene somewhere in my family. Somehow it skipped me and went right to my girl. V had her first pony ride when she was one-and-a-half years old. Ever since then, she’s been looking forward to a real horse-riding lesson (I’ve written a bit about it here before). But horses and sailboats don’t mix, and since we’ve moved to Maine, I’ve been researching riding lessons for my girl. We visited a couple of stables with V to get a sense of the chemistry with trainers. We decided on a family-run training stable ten minutes away.

Horse Lesson 7

Once I had booked a lesson, V showed a determination and focus that I didn’t know an almost five-year old could have.

She took out her one copy of Young Rider magazine and reviewed the pictures, “I’m studying up for my lesson.” She requested that we re-read the articles to her. She asked to ride her bike more to work on her balance. Tig and I noticed that she was standing up on her bike more, and looking for hills to lean into it and work her legs. She was motivated to figure out her left hand from her right.

The night before her lesson, we discussed and picked out her riding outfit: tights and a short sleeved shirt.

The morning of her lesson, she bounded out of bed and washed up without us reminding her. She asked me to braid her hair so that it wouldn’t fall into her eyes. When the time came to get ready to go she was at the door, shoes on. We had a lot of time, so I let O put together a small puzzle before we went. She waited impatiently, tapped her fingers on the radiator and glared at us. I can tell you that I never had that kind of motivation, organization and focus when I was five. But then again, I didn’t have a clear passion at that age.

Horse Lesson 1
We arrived early for our lesson. V met with her trainer, Megan, and they groomed Ollie before saddling him up. V chose an english saddle and a purple saddle blanket.

Horse Lesson 2
Lucky for me, Tig was able to take the day off and hang out with the little man while I gave my attention to V.

Horse Lesson 5
V was on a long lead line (I forget the technical term) for the half hour lesson. She worked on getting up on her stirrups…

Horse Lesson 4
…and balancing without hands.

Horse Lesson 3
Megan, the trainer, was great about making it fun and light.

Horse Lesson 6
Look at that happy face. It’s worth its weight in gold.

Years ago, before I became a parent, I thought riding lessons were indulgent–frivolous! I had so many opinions before being humbled on the journey of parenthood. In the past four years, I’ve had to re-examine my thinking around issues of scarcity and abundance. Years ago, I would have told you that I believed in “creative deprivation.” But now I’m coming to the conclusion that abundance is good. Not wanton excess, but abundance in the things my child cares most about. It would have been so much easier for us to say, “Horses are too expensive. Forget it.” I’m sure many of us grew up with those types of messages.

Instead, we saved on the things she didn’t care much about. Nice clothes, gourmet foods, heirloom dollhouses, dance classes…her own decorated bedroom. We’re always on the lookout for horses. Tig suggested we stop by Cumberland island on our cruising trip specifically to see the wild horses. I sought out people who owned or rode horses and shamelessly went after them (thank you, you-know-who’s for tolerating me). A friend gave V a small herd of model horses, which she plays with everyday. I made V a cardboard stable and tack room, complete with stalls, saddle racks, and miniature horse magazines. Sure, it was work.

And in return, V showed me so much about learning through passions.

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5 Replies to “First riding lesson

  1. *sniff* I had the great fortune to grow up on a horse farm. I share Vs passion for these incredible animals and to this day, the best friend I have ever had in my life was a small, stout Haflinger pony. Nothing ever compared to he and I galloping through the woods, jumping logs, trail riding along roads(I did this all bare back much to my mother’s chagrin). It felt like we were flying. This was the bright spot in my youth which was otherwise filled with terrible school bullying. My pony and my passion for horses saved me.

    I am so happy you realize that this is V’s passion and not an indulgence. I am in awe of her determination and work ethic. I will not be surprised at all if one day, she isn’t representing her country in international competition. Drive and determination like V’s is an incredibly rare thing, at 5? It is unheard of. YOU GO V!!!!!!!

    1. Cidnie, V would love to grow up on a horse farm and to have her own pony. I’m hoping she will find comfort in her friendship with animals, the way you did. We’re happy to support her as long as she has this passion.

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