We've got a great 4-H group, and my kids have had so many opportunities for learning through their participation in it. We also have a great horse community on the mountain filled with folks who are willing and eager to teach the next generation about good horsemanship.
Today our club was given a private clinic by some excellent trainers, and they put in a full day working with their animals.
They started with ground work and some time in the round pen.
My daughter was working with our newest family member, Jake. He's a retired roping horse and his previous owner couldn't afford to feed him any more. She wanted him to go to a good family so she gave him to us. We've got to put some weight on him, but we're cautiously optimistic that he's going to be a great horse for the kids. So far, he's been a real gentlemen, and he's well trained. The poor old guy just needs some TLC.
Below, my baby is asking her horse to back up with a little encouragement from Dad.
Now she's rewarding her with a rub on the nose. "Molly" is a very special horse that my baby has been riding this year. She belongs to some of our friends, and she's 25 years old. She's the sweetest, most gentle creature on the planet, and my baby is in love with her. She's also a "bomb-proof" horse that won't flinch at anything....that's why this mama loves her. I fully trust her with my baby on her back. There is something so special about the bond between older horses and children.
Below is a 6 year old horse named "Ben". We're trying him out for a while to see how the kids do with him.
He's very well behaved.
After some ground work, the kids began to ride. The younger kids were required to wear helmets in the arena for safety.
They rode with-out stirrups for most of the day to improve their balance.
My baby's boots almost fell off from dangling on the side of her horse all day, but she rode so well. When evening rolled around, we had to pry the kids off of the horses. They had so much fun riding with friends and learning new skills to practice at home.
One thing that surprised us was that Jake had such an awareness of who was on his back today. He is peppier with adults, and gentle with my older kids. But when my baby got on him, he would hardly move. He would only follow my husband around the round pen even though my baby had the reins. When my husband stopped, he stopped. It was like he turned into a petting zoo horse when she was on his back. He is ever so cautious with the wee ones. Who knew? I hope he works out for us.
My baby hanging out with Jake after a full day of riding.
There is so much to learn when it comes to horsemanship, and we have been blessed with so many wonderful opportunities through 4-H. We're thankful for all of the folks who donate their time and patiently instruct the kids every month. They're amazing!