Beginner Rider

My fearless niece, Mackenzie, is learning to ride on Kelsey, and sHe’s doing great.? Kelsey is a beautiful but stubborn little Quarter Horse, and sHe’s smart. Too smart. Mackenzie has to be proactive rather than reactive when she rides. Kelsey will stop dead when sHe’s decided the ride is over, and she’ll begin backing up if you urge her forward. We remind Mackenzie, ??OK, we’re getting close to the barn (aka the out-gate in the arena), and you know Kelsey?s going to stop, so turn her early and urge her forward before she has a chance to stop.? ?She stopped. Now circle her and ask her to go out, then forward.? Mackenzie stares blankly at us. ?Press your heels on her and pull the rein so you direct her to go in a circle.? The first few times, Kelsey won, and my sister got on to ride her through it. But Mackenzie watched the two of them closely, and now she knows how to use a wide, gentle, leading rein?naturally putting pressure on Kelsey with her inside leg?and keeps Kelsey going. We’re so proud of her! We’re not quite as proud of ourselves. it’s not easy to teach beginning riders. All the things that we do without thinking when we ride?seat, leg, reins, voice?work together and you really don’t ?think? about it. they’re tough to break it down, and I admire instructors who accept beginner riders into their riding programs. I know of a few stables that don’t. THere’s so much to do when you ride, and a beginner doesn’t even understand the jargon, making explaining the process that much more difficult. ?Use more leg!? ?No, don’t grip with your thighs! That tells her to stop. Use your calf.? ? ?Shorten your reins!? ?No, you don’t need scissors!? I don’t remember learning to ride. In my mind, there wasn?t a day in my life that I didn’t ride. My first ride was at the age of 4 months, 3 days, and I’ve included the photo here as proof. Mom didn’t believe in wasting time, and she clearly wasn?t going to accept a few tears of protest.? Mom was a tough teacher. I remember hours spent riding without stirrups, and even more hours riding bareback. We learned to ride English, Western and to drive the pony cart. I recall falling while going over a jump because I forgot to tighten the girth. She helped me up, reminded me to check my girth before mounting, and told me to get right back on that horse. I would have, too, but I couldn?t lift my arm (turned out to be a broken shoulder). But, thanks to Mom?s perseverance, I now have a good seat, and I often receive compliments about my ?kind hands.? I want to help Mackenzie achieve that, too. The problem is, I don’t know how it actually happened. I guess Mackenzie?s going to have put in a lot of miles, and we’ll have to let Kelsey help teach her. I think sHe’s got natural talent. Inherited, I’d guess. Right, Grandma’

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