Sunday, July 26, 2009

One More Day

Not So Kneedy Now

Much better in the knees this morning, Sunday. The weather is kind of iffy though, with gray skies and high humidity. I am not sure about riding, and it is the last stage of the Tour de France, so I will be in for the bulk of the morning.

Yesterday, I gave a riding lesson to a lovely 4-H rider. For those of you who may not know what 4-H is, the clubs began as agricultural organizations for farm kids. It gave them a chance to get together to share and practice skills in homemaking and farming, including the raising of crops and animals. Today, 4-H clubs encourage kids in all kinds of activities with rocketry, computers, as well as the traditional agricultural endeavors.

Horse club members are taught the proper care and training of their horses. But, the training within the clubs can be scant. Unlike Pony Club which tries to foster riding skills, 4-H caters to many more kids who just want to enjoy their horses as companions instead of competition animals. This does vary, however, from area to area, but around here the 4-H horse shows do not always attract the most talented horses and riders. Where I live there are dozens of levels of horse showing available for ambitious competitors, from small local shows, to the largest, most competitive nationally recognized competitions.

The New Jersey Horse Park, less than an hour away, holds competitions in nearly every horse sport at nearly every level--although I think the 3 Day Course for eventing is primarily for the CCI levels--don't see many lower level jumps there.

For our local kids, the County Fair--about 4 miles away--offers the little show where the kids can enter all kinds of classes. It's a big deal for all the riders who get to show off their horses and skills in front of audiences who would not normally see riders at all. It's fun, but also some serious competition among kids who live in the nearby neighborhoods and often go to the same schools.

So, to my little talented rider, there is a lot at stake. She keeps her horse at home and does not have the social and supportive community of other riders around here. She wants to prove she is a good rider with a good horse to all of them, I think.

Her horse is a sweet about 11 year old Quarterhorse. He has navicular, but can move nicely once he's warmed up. The trick is getting C to both move him out so his gaits "flow" and to get him to take some nice round contact on the bit so he looks like the pretty fellow he is.

We'll be doing some pretty concentrated work over the next couple weeks, I guess, hoping to develop both qualities. C is a good little rider without a lot of formal training, but, my goodness, she is a good student. She listens well, focuses, and really tries to understand the basic concepts. What I need to do is develop her "feel" so she can work on her own to better both her horse and herself. As far as I'm concerned, a good teacher's job is to get her students to be independent as the majority of the riding they will do will not be under her guidance.

Saturday's lesson was good, and C worked hard to get her boy down and on the bit. I think with a few more rides, we'll get some good results and then it's just a matter of seeing if she can do it all on her own.

I'll do the best I can to get her ready for the fair. I haven't seen the other horse/rider teams she will be competing against, but I want her to be at her best.

It is a fun and rewarding challenge.


  1. Thnaks for explaining 4-H. I have been scratching my head about it for years. I understood it was competition for kids but I could not fathom which ones ^-^

    I am sure C will become an indepandant rider under your guidance. Is her QH broke western? Poor little fellow it might be confusing for him to take a contact!

  2. Anonymous11:56 AM

    Glad the knees are feeling better!

    It's great that you're working with the 4-H rider - it's really fun to work with a young person who's eager to learn and just soaks stuff up - I bet you'll be a big help to her.

  3. Muriel, he does ride western, but from his head carriage, he's not been properly schooled. He goes very flat when left on his own, with an outside bend. He may have had some serious pro training when he started, but now he has no real "shape" to the way he goes.

    I'd be pleased if he would just round up, whether with contact or without, but he hasn't quite realized how comfortable that can be. We'll see what some schooling can do.

  4. What a great project! She is a lucky girl to have found you.

    I was in 4-H when I was in junior high. It was the first time I had riding lessons and my memory of that time is magical.

  5. I'm happy to hear that your knees are feeling better today.

    Isn't it fun to take a student and have them focus and really learn. I'm sure she'll be a much better rider by the time she goes to the fair.