Jockey Style!

Today I taught two little girls for the last time. One of them is emigrating to New Zealand and the other will continue with her lessons after she’s been on holiday with her family for a fortnight.

I had a think about what to do that was fun and still educational, and after doing a bit of reorganisation I managed to get both of their favourite ponies for the lesson.

We warmed up as usual, keeping them busy with various school movements so they couldn’t giggle too much and they would stop talking for a moment. I wish!

Soon we had cantered on both reins confidently with secure positions – it’s hard to believe that twelve months ago they were nervous in trot and had palpitations at the mere mention of canter. Around the ponies on the ground they would shriek and recoil rapidly. Now, they’re all over them. Scrambling on, leading, untacking, grooming, and picking out feet. They even canter over little jumps!

I decided for a bit of fun, and to help strengthen their lower legs, we would ride jockey style. Now I remember doing this on wet miserable winter days with ten of us nose to tail in the indoor arena. Then we used to have to put stirrups up by ten holes, but today I only raised the girls’ stirrups by four holes. Before they started giggling, I made them go into their jumping position, and exaggerated it slightly so they looked more like jockeys. Then they set off in walk before going up into trot. They weren’t allowed to rise, but had to hover, keeping their lower leg stable. I had them work on both reins, riding circles (don’t worry, they did have little walk breaks) whilst hovering to the trot.

Then, one of the girls let her toes point down line a ballerina and tried to do a nosedive, hugging her ponies neck as he continued trotting round oblivious to her peril. I didn’t think she’d make it, when her heels touched the cantle, but amazingly she pushed herself back into the saddle. I reprimanded her whilst laughing, and reminded her about the importance of heavy heels before we carried on. Afterwards they looked a lot stronger and stable in their jumping position so hopefully they’ll both take that away with them.

We finished the lesson with a race – around the world in both directions with hands out to the side, followed by half scissors both sides and then full scissors front and back. They were pretty nifty! Then they asked to lead the ponies back to the yard instead of riding them, so we did that before saying our goodbyes.

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