Let's start out with Friday. The great jumping lesson!
I started out the morning over the moon, and by the end of the working day, was a crabby irritable mess. I just was in a funk, and there was no getting out of it. To make it better, it appears no one actually reads my messages and our lesson was pushed back an hour (not the coach's fault).
Made it to the barn, got Moon-pie ready. No biggie. Met Coach mm as we'll call her and started working with Mr. Moon.
For first lessons, you never really expect anything spectacular. The coach is just meeting the horse and rider combination for the first time, and getting a feel for what they know and how they work together.
We did some warming up, and worked on getting Moon to loosen and bend. Then we did some canter circles, which was the FIRST real time we did serious canter work together. After almost a year with coach W, we had just started on canter, and it was no more than a couple of transitions and that was it.
I was nervous, but to the left, for his left lead, he was on the money. Beautiful circle and I think we rode it well enough.
To the right? Counter canter the WHOLE FRICKEN TIME. We tried a dozen or so way to no avail. He ALWAYS picked up the wrong lead, no matter what we did.
So Coach mm asked if Moon knew flying lead changes. "Um...no. Not that I know of anyway". I sure as hell didn't train them, and I know the owner before me sure didn't.
"Try giving him a little kick with your outside leg," she says.
I was almost rolling my eyes in my head. Come on. This is Moon. The horse came with next to no knowledge, and I've not ridden a ton of horses that do flying lead changes on command.
But I kicked anyway. Nothing.
<eye roll> whatever. <kick>
FLYING LEAD CHANGE.
Yes folks. It happened.
Isn't this something a horse needs to be trained to do?? Cause he did it. He literally did it, and almost like he *knew* what was being asked but was a little rusty at it.
Moon knows flying lead changes?!
That just blew my mind. If that was all we got out of the lesson, I would be over the moon. My horse can do flying lead changes. Okay, so he doesn't pick up the right lead. Let's ignore that. He can change on the fly!!!
We moved on after that, learning rhythm in our riding. Coach mm put out ground poles, and we trotted over them trying to keep the same pace as we went along. It went great :)
Then she gave us a little x-rail and we popped over it. Moon was a touch rushy at times, or trying to sneak around the rails, but he finished up nice and solid and happy. His pacing became consistent and I learned to keep a nice solid leg on him without asking for anything.
We finished with the x-rail a few more times, and she assured me that my top fear of smashing him in the mouth was not happening. :) That made me happy :)
We didn't do a ton of jumping, but for a first lesson I was thrilled that we got to pop over even a cross-rail. And the fact that Moon, despite having a new horse in his herd, was well behaved and just listening to me so well. I love that.
|Little x-rail to get us going!|
I'm super excited for the next time we get to ride and do more jumping. He's a solid little pony and I love that about him.
We also did the whole lesson with an audience of strangers, plus S2. I sometimes forget it's now an extroverted barn and some days there will be 3 or 4 people I don't know hanging out. In the very least, I'm quite happy to know that I really don't even notice people once I start riding. The whole world drops away, and the only people I can think about is the coach and my horse. The end. Afterwards, sure, I'm wondering and thinking about what they all thought, but during my lesson, I'm in the zone. It's pretty useful.
Post lesson we watched H go around with Tiny Tim, and then it was an evening. Man was I hot and sore and ready for a rest!
On a positive, the coach was quite surprised that Mr. Moon wasn't huffing after all of our work. The reality is that while he doesn't have a ton of arena time lately and maybe I don't ride a whole ton, we've worked pretty hard to stay reasonably fit, and I'd almost say he's close to his fitness level from our showing year. And that's awesome to me.
|Trademark evil rabbit face...|
Saturday the farrier came by for a trim, and I praised her on the fact that Moon can gallop a gravel road and still be sound the next day. Jumping no issues, and even on Sunday after his trim he was still nice and sound for me. I'm thrilled.
Saturday afternoon was BUSY, but it's kind of horse related. With our wedding coming in September, we want to finish our "path" to our back field, so that it's actually a rode. The length is almost 1/3rd of a mile, so we can't afford to haul gravel. Instead, we've been using the silt and small rocks from the build to fill in the low spots and smooth the path out. After 8 hours of work on Saturday, while not "perfect", the "path" was now smooth enough that I could drive my car slowly down it!!! :D
What does this have to do with horses??
The long term plan.
See, if I can drive my car out back, I can certainly get a horse trailer out back. I can get fencing for Mr. Moon and be able to drive to the paddocks. I can haul hay. I can get back there when it's been raining without getting stuck!! It's the start of making our farm!! :D
I'm not sure where I drum the energy up from, but Sunday morning after breakfast I took my almost 6-year old niece out to the barn with me to meet Mr. Moon. She was excited to meet a horse and I thought it would be wonderful for us to have something to share. As I've said before, I wish I had an aunt who loved horses as a kid, so I want to be that aunt to my kidlings too.
I also had another lesson with little C later that afternoon, and it was neat to...observe, different children.
So my niece D, she's a talker and told me all about everything on the drive. Horses and cows and bunny rabbits. When we got to the barn I gave her some directions and rules and we went into the garage where we store all of our horse stuff.
"Ewww. It stinks in here," she informed me.
"Doesn't it smell like horses?? This is all our tack. It smells like horses and horse food and leather!"
She gave me "the look" and walked back out the door. Okay, okay. So not everyone falls in love with the smell of poo.
We brought Moon back to the front and she eagerly helped groom him and get him ready. Unlike C she wasn't as focused on learning all the specifics of horses and horse ownership and care. She is one of those kids that is trying to engage in everything around her all at once. A butterfly over there, why does it smell like that (that's horse paddocks after a long winter), is that fence electric, how long would it shock me for, why is that horse laying down, can we groom him, where's my helmet, can we got to mcdonalds for lunch, where is the city from here, are there cows, how far are we from home, how old will you be in ten years, wow you are old, do you work here, how come that woman is over there, do you have a quad, can I come to your house, does the horse live there, can we call him draculara, what if he was pink, can we paint him pink, is that a big truck, does he eat marshmellows...
Seriously. I put him on her and she was ready to brush him. She brushed him and she was ready to feed him. We fed him and she wanted to walk him. We walked him and she wanted to ride him again. And then groom him. And then paint him pink.
Thankfully, I am a creature of obsessive structure, and so while I will entertain and answer a few thousand questions, the horse is still only brought up once, he gets a grooming before and after his ride, and once we're off, we're off. Perhaps one of the awesome things horses teach us, is the benefit of routine. Just settle and perform the activities one at a time. In order.
It's probably totally not appropriate of me, but I'm curious to see how "the disease" affects each of these girls (D and C). They are only about 14 months apart in age which makes it really neat because they would have been exposed to horses at about the same time. Neither child really has done much more than sit on the odd pony for pony rides. Neither of them were raised in the country, though both have spent time outside the city. Neither has horsey parents either, though I think both their moms would have ridden horses if given the opportunity. :)
After D had done a bunch of work steering and such, I hopped on behind her and we did some trotting. I really wanted to give the girls a chance to trot, but I was worried about starting it on the lead rope BECAUSE I know it's incredibly bouncy. It doesn't take much to bounce right out of the saddle, which I don't want these kids doing! They don't even have stirrups!
On a whim, I decided that I would simply ride double with them. I know H and I had swapped horses on horseback before and Moon didn't care at all. I also knew that with the reins in my hand I was confident I could control Moon, and I know that I can ride bareback and won't fall off myself.
Of course, Moon did not care *at all*. We trotted around, and D was bouncing along, but with my arms on either side of her, I was able to make sure she stayed on the saddle. It worked great and I think she really enjoyed it. I think I also really enjoyed it, because it was a great way to experience riding with a little kid :) It allows me to maintain a ton of control but still bring on those fast speeds :)
And holy, do kids like faster speeds once they get a taste for them lol.
After our ride, I put Moon away and we cleaned up. I took D home to her parents, and she told me all about the pony she wants, who would be white and named Angel and she would paint her pink too. And she would be sized for D, not so big as Moon, and a girl of course.
Because a female small pony is *not* going to be a total cow kiddo ;) Now to watch her start hounding her parents about getting a pony lol.
I managed a quick 15 minute break at home before going back to the barn for C's lesson. I set up a cute little obstacle course for her, and since they were running late, I even managed to go for a ride on Moon myself. Surprise, one more horse had been added to the paddock, but they were all behaving and Moon was a good boy going up the road. Heck, he was so good I didn't even realize that another horse had been added to his herd until later that afternoon! Plus, the winds were pretty strong and still he was super well behaved. I am just so thrilled with him lately.
We worked on some more trot poles until C arrived, and then she worked hard brushing him and making him super shiny. That kid could spend an hour just running a brush over him <3 I asked her if she thought he smelled and she leaned up against him inhaling deeply, "Mmmmmm....he smells good and warm." ;)
When he was shiny, we picked out his hooves and we tacked him up. She did the obstacle course and REALLY is starting to rock steering. I mean, I was impressed. I put less and less effort into leading him, and told her to spend more and more effort telling him to go where she wanted. It was super interesting to see Moon like "Okay...I want to follow S...but...I'm definitely being told to go the other way. I'm gonna listen...unless she asks kinda weakly, and then I'll just stop confused."
And he did. She did weave pylons and I showed her turn on the forehand, and we even did walk poles without any problem. I was so proud of her. She was super contentious about not crashing into anything and already asking me about when she gets to start jumping ;)
The *only* thing I had to make sure we were careful about was going fast. I taught her to bump him with her legs and....she fell in love with the fact that he would go faster when she did. I don't think she fully appreciated what I meant by the fact he'd keep going faster and faster and that she could fall off :P
I know eventually both kids will hit pay dirt, and I just hope that I'm convincing enough to get them back on :P
She also did some egg-and-spoon work, which was a valiant effort. Plus she was now able to stick both of her arms out like an airplane and like a helicopter, she reached up his mane with either hand and also back behind her. One big thing I kept having to remind her of, was to stretch her legs nice and long and loose, because I don't want her learning a bad position. Or gripping. Which I found both kids were kinda prone to doing.
I think I might do the dollar bill game next time ;)
We also finished with doubling-up for some trotting. She giggled whenever we did, and it was a lot of fun.
After we finished, she brushed him *like crazy* until he shone. She was so happy :) We fed him some food, and she made sure he was okay. She even asked if he was hurt from stepping on one of the ground poles earlier ;)
Then her and H's daughter M met again, and the two kids helped me walk Moon back to the pasture. That was like one of those moments that made my heart explode with pure happiness. Like pure happiness.
And then the two of them ran off playing together, and did so for another half hour. :) These are my two little flower girls, so it's special to me that they get along so well <3
H and C's parents had cleaned up the arena obstacles, so we were all done. I was super thrilled with the ride, and super thrilled with C's progress. Best was when she found a poop scoop that was small enough for her and started cleaning every piece of mud or poop off the driveway lol. THAT is a kid I want on my grooming team!! :D
I got home and fell fast asleep. Seriously. I LOVE these kids and I LOVE teaching them and it is the highlight of my day. I'm thrilled with how happy Moon seems to be doing it, and I love that I've seen him every day since last Wednesday. That's awesome to me :) But man oh man, is it ever exhausting!!!
We'll see how this summer will go! I know that I want a jump lesson every other Friday, and I hope to teach the kids most Sundays :) I don't mind that it means a little less weekend and little less work done for the wedding; I'm coming to see that these are the moments and relationships that will last far longer than one day.
|My niece with Moon...I think they've both fallen asleep...|