Yesterday, I gave Bella Benedict another riding lesson on Gunny. This wouldn't be so significant, after all I teach horseback riding lessons for a living. But Belle is just 6 yrs old and she has to clean corrals to EARN her own lessons. Her family is Very tight financially, so I offered Belle a chance to join the 'work to ride' program. She works Hard to earn enough credits to get to ride.

So, this was her 3rd lesson, and we worked on developing a SMOOTH whoa - a nice easy slow pull on the reins, while sitting tall, not leaning forward, then a smooth and slow release after he halts. It took a bit for her to coordinate how much was just enough - too little a pull and he just went slower, not stopping ,and if she held the pull too long, then he would step backwards. Soon she was walking and halting like a pro. Then we did some work on jogging - Bella has a very proper position, sits very tall, but with a little TOO much arch in her back. Some kids try SO hard!!! So, I helped her find a way to sit 'pretty' without being stiff.

Star lesson horse Gunny with Bella

Then she asked if she could 'JUMP"! Well, No, because Gunny is 29 years old and we don't want to hurt his front legs. But we Did walk over some poles on the ground and we also worked on some gymkhana patterns - pole bending and clover leaf barrels.

Now her little brother, Gio, wants to clean stalls for lessons also!!! Gio is 4! But I told him that he can do it if he wants - of course his mom will help him, and he will do stalls where the horse is taken out for safety. But what a great way to learn how to work for what you want!

I love teaching kids. It is about More than just riding - it is learning about life and morals and determination and grace. Horsemanship used to be required training for all young royalty - because the Horses would never be impressed by a crown, they only went as well as the rider truely deserved. Many a young prince was brought to shame when a horse preformed better for the stableman's son than the prince. Horses do teach humility. As well as bringing joy into the lives of everyone around them. As Churchill said 'there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the Inside of a man". - a Fun place to learn to ride! 

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Comment by Emily Walsh on April 18, 2011 at 7:07am

There is something to be said about kids! Unfortunately there are no work to ride programs near me so I used to save my allowance($10 a week) and I used to eat the cheapest thing I could buy for lunch's and bank the rest of my money to pay for my lessons. I now work part-time to pay for my lessons/show gear/shows. My Mom pays the gas money to drive me around since she can't afford to pay for my lessons. But at the same time, I think I enjoy it more when I have earned my right to be there from late shifts and hard work.


At 6 and 4 working for what they want, they will learn important lessons way earlier than there peers! These kids will not feel the harsh slap of reality when there parents suddenly cut off spoiling them and will have good work ethic's! I wish them the best of luck.

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