Friday afternoons take Ian and I to the ranch for the kids’ weekly riding lesson. Tabitha and the ranch school’s director have set up a great schedule for the kids. They have split the kids into two groups and the groups rotate between riding lessons and sewing lessons. This week was the boys’ week to ride, so come 1:30 Ian and I headed off to the ranch to start the lesson.
Tabitha’s done a great job helping the kids with their basics, so I am able to take Ian with me and juggle him along with teaching. I would hate to not spend my afternoon off with Ian, yet I would hate to pass up an afternoon off to spend helping the kids with their horses. Fortunately it works well to combine the two! Ian loves to be outside, and with four kids riding each week, there’s always someone to help hold Ian when my hands get full.
The kids have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders with the horses. If they want to ride, they have to learn to take care of the horses, and to be self-sufficient with the horses. Tabitha has developed a rotating chore schedule so that each kid helps with the daily care of the horses. On riding lesson days, the kids start their lesson by going out and catching the horses. All last year was spent on learning and showing at halter and showmanship, so the kids have developed some great skills at handling the horses on the ground. Usually Gracie and Jesse are way out in the far field, so it’s a bit of a hike for the kids to catch and bring their horses up to the barn. From there, we tie up in stalls, and the kids proceed to groom the horses; each kid who is riding has to contribute to the entire grooming process. The kids have gotten pretty confident with grooming, so now they’re moving towards learning to be more self-sufficient at tacking up. The boys understand saddling fairly well, but they still get a little turned around about which side to put the elastic on while putting the girth on. A couple of the boys are almost ready to start learning how to put a bridle on.
After tacking up it’s off the round pen we go. It’s set up against one side of the fence to make it a little larger so that we can take both horses in it at the same time. Terri Bishop saved the day for us a few months ago when she offered to let the ranch borrow some of her extra round pen panels. It’s helped improve our riding program drastically by having an enclosed area available to contain the horses during lessons. The last few weeks the kids have been learning what a half halt is, and applying them. It’s been a lot of stop and go lately.
The kids have been blessed tremendously by Chris and Shelly Lawson with a very generous gift. They brought Shelly’s very sweet mare, Gracie to live at the ranch as a lesson pony. Gracie is an absolute sweetie pie and has been a kind and patient teacher. Today she stood and went to sleep while the kids took turns practicing “around the world” and other pony club exercises on. There will be a special place in heaven for horses like Gracie!
Next week is Thanksgiving break, so we’ll be taking a break from riding, but we’ll be back at it the next week with the girls up for their next lesson. Keep your fingers crossed for mild weather on Fridays so the kids can keep riding and Ian can spend time outside!