I had the best time with my new students from the Louisa County Parks and Recreation Department programs!!! Pictured above are the four fearless ladies who came out, enthusiastic and brave, in the chilly temperatures yesterday to take their first lesson. Many had never sat on a horse, others had not ridden in decades, and all of them had such affection for their four-legged partners. It was awesome to see! They started with a general introduction to horse behavior and handling on the ground, learned some grooming techniques (alas, I hope they didn't wear their fanciest winter jackets), and spent a few minutes brushing and bonding with their selected mounts. During this time, one rider sang quietly to her horse, and another gave praise and compliments in her native language - not English, but in a tone of voice that universally conveyed kindness and trust.
After sorting out which helmet fit which head (an excuse to spend five minutes in the heated tackroom), it was time to climb aboard. In this initial session, they began to learn correct position, halt, walk, and steering, and each rider individually navigated a simple obstacle course including poles, a maze, steering through a zigzag, and halting in a specific spot. All of this was pretty easy compared to dismounting, which I think presented the biggest challenge! Finally the horses (from left to right, Henry, Belle, Ginger and Pungo) each received an apply treat and the ladies - having pushed their comfort zones, successfully - seemed as excited as a gaggle of eight-year-olds after a pony ride. I can't wait to host this group again.
Horse of the Year
Zenyatta received her well-earned Horse of the Year honors last week, and also received a special award from Penny Chenery, Secretariat's owner, for capturing the hearts of the public. Here's a link to a terrific report about the Queen's new life at Lane's End Farm in Kentucky: Visiting Zenyatta