When I was an adolescent and teen our neighbors behind us, the Pollocks, had an old pony that we would ride bareback. I don’t remember the horse’s name but I do remember riding it around the streets of our rural neighborhood.
Since then, I have ridden horses a few times but never really enjoyed it because the horse had me figured out…I was afraid and didn’t know how to control it. The last time I remember riding was with my good friend Becky Haber, probably in Arizona. That was pretty much a disaster because the horse wouldn’t do anything I wanted it to do…like follow the trail out from the stable.
But now we are staying at a horse farm for about a month so we decided to take lessons. The area is beautiful (hot and humid most days but beautiful) so it is motivating to be out. More on Finca Soley (Soley Farm) in another blog. For now, this is about the riding lessons.
At first I was really afraid of the horse kicking me even though I knew you always let the horse know where you are so there are no surprises. I’m getting more comfortable with that and more comfortable with giving my horse, Ronaldo, commands and he mostly does what I ask him to do.
At Finca Soley they do “natural horse training” which means they use the natural physics of the horse’s body and its mind to tell it what to do. Most everything is 4 steps of increasing requests to the horse, starting out with maybe just a motion or sound and working up to being firmer and firmer to get the horse to do what you want. It is really amazing to just point to the horse’s hoof and he will pick it up so that I can clean it!!! I have a long way to go but at least I feel that we can rent horses when we are out; it is a wonderful way to see the countryside.
I don’t plan a lot of lessons, just enough so that I can get the horse to walk or stop as I want. We have done 2 trail rides (very short ones) so far and on Friday we will do a longer one. I can really feel how the horse’s slow gait stimulates posture. Michael used to relax and yet sit up with little assistance when he rode. My posture is much better on the horse as well.
Here is an animation of today’s trail ride with Milton.