Sometimes I feel that I spend my whole life saying “don`t walk behind your pony”, “Careful of your reins, they`re by your feet”, “Turn your pony away from you”. Today, I had a classic example of a girl who thought she knew best.
This seven year old girl was on her own for the lesson so I spent a bit of time tacking up her pony with her. She loves doing that and when you have lots of kids it`s hard to get involved with stable management, so I made the most of this opportunity. She put on the bridle fairly easily, and could tell me the different parts confidently. Then we put the saddle on, adjusted it so it was in the correct place, and then girthed up her pony and led him out of the stable. I got her to halt and adjust her stirrups from the ground, before checking her girth and then she wanted to go to the Big Mounting Block.
She walked her pony over confidently, but somehow ended up with his tail facing the block. Slightly confused, she looked to me for advice.
“Right, we need to get ourselves the right way round, otherwise you`ll be riding backwards”, I joked. “Now you`re going to turn Popeye right and walk a big circle so you end up approaching the mounting block with you closest to it.” I accompanied by explanation with vigorous arm movements, to make sure she knew where she was going.
She nodded and promptly swung round to the left, pulling her pony towards her.
I watched, interested to see how this would evolve as she still wouldn`t end up with the mounting block on the near side of her pony when she continued her three hundred and sixty degree turn before emitting this piercing shriek. If I`d been wearing glasses they would have shattered!
“HE`S STANDING ON MY TOE!” She squawked as I intervened, pushing the blissfully unaware pony off her flat foot.
Telling her she`d be fine, and to make sure she could wriggle her toes I began to demonstrate the error of her ways. I showed her (again) how to correctly turn her pony away from her, highlighting how far away his hooves were from mine. Then I turned him towards me, and pointed out how close he was to stepping on my feet. She watched me, silently taking it all in. I suppose at least she wasn`t still shrieking. I handed her back the reins and she then turned her pony away from her (towards me, but you can`t win everything) and approached the mounting block and then quietly got on.
One lesson well learnt!