Today was my daughter's first riding lesson with her new teacher who teaches young kids. Most riding instructors don't work with kids under 8 years old and my daughter just turned 7 a few weeks ago. This instructor teaches kids as young as 4 years old and has some really cute little ponies. My daughter got to ride Tiny, who is this little black and white Shetland who isn't much bigger than our dog. Literally. He was thicker and weighed a lot more, but wasn't much taller. While I was helping my daughter get Tiny tacked up I forgot a couple times she wasn't a dog.
I was proud of my daughter. She hasn't had much experience handling horses because she's too small to get them tacked up or groom them much since she can only reach their bellies. She has led Doc around but even though he's four times as big as Tiny, he's a lot less stubborn. Tiny kept stopping to eat hay off the flour and my daughter was getting frustrated and said I needed to lead him because she's not strong enough but I told her it's attitude not physical strength and she just had to know she's in control and that will come through to Tiny. She gave a good hard yank and said, "No, Tiny!" and sure enough she lifted her head up and submissively followed my daughter over to the cross ties.
While we were waiting for her instructor I had her lead Tiny around in a 20 meter circle in the arena and she did really well. When she got on she looked really good. The instructor had her walk and do a posting trot and came over said she's impressed and that my daughter is a natural. I've heard from a few other riders who've watched her that she has a natural talent for riding. Of course I think that but everyone thinks their child is the most beautiful, talented genius ever.
There was another mom there with her teenager daughter and her horse and we got talking while our girls were riding. The mom is a teacher and very interested in incorporating horsemanship with teaching so we got talking about that. I'm going to a workshop this weekend on Equine Facilitated Learning and hopefully this other mom will be there too.
While I was talking to the other mom my daughter was doing round the world in the saddle and leaning over to touch the pony's ears. Her instructor had already warned her that Tiny couldn't stand having her butt touched (where the bucking strap would go). But my daughter forgot and let her foot go up on Tiny's flank and next thing you know, Tiny's doing a full-on bucking bronco bucking fit. Instead of screaming or crying my daughter held on and yelled in a peevish tone, "Hey! She's bucking!" The instructor was standing right there with Tiny on the lunge line so after just once up in front and twice kicking backwards Tiny stopped. I had to tell my daughter afterward that my first thought was, "Hey, she's getting that riding the mechanical bull experience she wanted so much when we were in Arizona but couldn't do because she is too small". My daughter laughed about it really hard on the way home.
Afterward my daughter was hungry and tired and not really into grooming Tiny and untacking her but I reminded her that it's all part of horsemanship. It was nice that when we were taking off Tiny's bridle the instructor's boyfriend was standing nearby and asked if he could help us and I asked that he hand me Tiny's halter and said, "Here I'll show you how I do this," then the instructor appeared and I said, "Well, but she probably has her way of doing it that I should find out," and she said, "No, you're fine. I saw your horsemanship yesterday and I trust you. You're fine." That was nice to hear since I felt like my riding lesson with her yesterday was a fiasco!