Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Six-Year-Old Equestrians

Yesterday Tori and Brianna, my twin granddaughters, had a bit of a long term dream come true.  I arranged for them to go and take their very first horseback riding lesson.  They have had somewhat of a love affair with horses since about the age of two.
We headed out to West Acre Farms outside of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to have a lesson with Connie Sibley.  Her horses are registered Quarter Horses that have the temperament to teach new riders as well as the talent to challenge intermediate and advanced riders.

After going over some basic rules and understandings about horse behavior, it was time for the girls to lead "Monique" and "Claire" out of the pasture and into the barn to prepare them for a ride.

First the girls were taught how to brush the horses, especially the horses' backs where the saddles will sit.  While brushing the horses, the instructor talked about the colors of the horses.  Tori's horse, "Monique," is reddish-brown and is called sorrel.  Brianna's horse, "Claire," is brown with a black mane and tail and is a bay.   

Next the girls had their first experience at saddling up their horses.  Because the girls are small, some of the work had to be done while standing up on a stool.  They had a little trouble lifting the heavy saddles up and over the horses, but they sure gave it their best effort.

Brianna saddling up Claire
For safety, the girls donned helmets and then it was time to take the horses out to the corral.  Here we see Tori and "Monique" heading out.

Mounting the horse for the first time went fairly smoothly.  It's a long way up there for a small girl!  First things to learn were how to sit properly and how to hold the reins.  It was explained that the reins are like the steering wheel that controls where the horse goes.  

Tori is up!
                                                              Brianna, up and happy!

And they're off!  Learning to WALK, WHOA, turn corners, and turn the horse completely around.

Ms. Sibley had the girls practice doing several drills.  The first drill was a stand up sit down drill, so the girls learn to balance and use their thigh muscles to hold them on the horse.  

Another drill was the "around the world" turns up on the saddle.  Sit sideways, then backwards, then on the other side, then back around to the front.  And do it fast!

After the riding time and the drills, it was time to do a dismount and lead the horses back into the barn.  Saddles were removed, and the horses were brushed again.  All of the tack was put away in its proper place.  

Special horse treats were taken out of a cowboy boot-shaped treat container, and the girls fed them to "Monique" and "Claire."  

Ms. Sibley offered the girls some ice pops to cool them off after their lesson, 
and we all went home smiling!


  1. What a wonderful treat and a dream come true for the girls. I love the way the instructor/owner instructed the girls, having them brush the horses/care for them in addition to the fun stuff like riding.

    I remember the first time Squirrel rode with her arms extended like that - I thought I would faint. But her instructor assured me she had great balance. Funny, I KNOW the kid and I didn't think so. heehee

    I hope they get to ride more. It is so wonderful.

  2. That's so great that they were able to do that!! They look like such little ladies in all of the pictures. I love it!!!

  3. That is wonderful. I greatly enjoyed reading about that adventure.

  4. They are still soooo thrilled. It was a dream come true. Thanks mom :)