January 28, 2014

Growing Up with Riding Lessons

I started riding when I was 9.  We'd moved from Colorado to Virginia and my mom found the Great Falls Horse Center.  They had good deals on group lessons.  My first riding companion was Chug a Boom.  The cutest little thing you have even seen!  He was a Chingoteague pony.

At this barn you received your horse assignment, grabbed the bridle and when to the back of the barn for the helper to go bridle the horse for you.  Then you would bring them to a row of hitching posts and groom and tack up the pony.

I learned a lot on Chug a Boom.  He even freaked my mom out when he got made at a horse behind him and kicked several times.  I stayed in the saddle but it was like being on a bucking bronco!

Our basic beginner lessons involved stretching and balance exercises.  The ponies were oh so patient.

I eventually grew up some and needed a taller horse so I rode Shadow.  I learned to jump on her, tiny jumps but jumps none the less.  

We also did canters where the group would one at a time canter around the ring and go to the end of the line.  She was a pretty little thing. 

My next assignment was Cinny.  In this first picture you can see a little rider on Chug a Boom behind us!

Cinny had an attitude.  I don't think she liked being a lesson horse.  She was cinchy and tried to bite you when you tightened the girth and when you tried to mount.  She was also the first horse I met that was a cribber.

Even with her faults, under saddle I remember having a good time on her.  

She was a pretty girl and I loved chestnuts.

We moved on from the Great Falls Riding Center to another private instructor.  She was someone who we later found out had stolen horses and was a bit shady.  We didn't last there too long.  Honestly I have no idea which horses were stolen!

After only 3 years of riding I was in my first horse show.  First and last I might add!  I won two 3rds and a 6th.  I had a fun time but really wasn't into that scene.  I rode Witters a bay pony in the jumping short stirrups equitation classes.

Barny was a white appaloosa with the spots just on his skin.  He was interesting by a pain.  He was stubborn.  He's the first horse I fell off of.  He ran off with me a week before the show and I spent that entire week soaking in the tub every morning.  Ouch.  I remember during the show warm up I tried to get him to jump but then when he didn't want to was going to turn him around and try again, that's when he decided and I was unseated.

I went to another stable with a gal named Joy I think.  She was an FBI agent and DIDN'T steal horses!  B.C. was a favorite of mine.  He was an off track TB.  Very push botton but with moments of "oh my god that's going to kill me!".  I did jumping on him and trail rides off the property.

He was a good little jumper and even though I didn't want to show we had fun doing little combinations of jumps.

He was also very tall, over 16 hands.  Often times I would use the fence railing to hop on him. Is he the reason I like chestnuts so much?  He was gorgeous.  The pictures don't do him justice but he was a horse I definitely clicked with.

There were some other horses as well that I grew up riding at one lesson barn or another.  I haven't tracked down all the old pictures.  By the end of high school though riding was not affordable to me or my parents so I only went on trail rides every once in a while.  I should have kept up with it, I should have figured out a way. I didn't want to compete, I just wanted my own horse to trail ride with.  Most colleges didn't offer a trail riding team, they had jumping teams or dressage.  Not my cup of tea.  So I did other things in college.  I know I could have figured a way to ride every week or twice a month at least...you young-uns....KEEP UP WITH IT!!!

Of course we all know that this story ends happily since I got back into riding full swing in 2010 with lessons and leasing horses.  I now have my dream horse!  She's a great partner and I'm content as ever to finally own a horse since October 2012.  Even though it would have been great to have had a horse sooner, and I probably could have, Dani's the perfect girl for me.  She's a great first horse for this re-beginner!

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