I am so fortunate to be a substitute riding instructor for Legacy Saddlebreds. I work very hard for a week, meet and visit with many wonderful children, teens and adults and then go home, realizing that I won’t be there when the temperature dips or swelters, the horse colics, the water freezeds, or the tractor breaks down. (Been there, done that.)
I had a good week. No one fell off and hopefully most riders enjoyed their lessons. I went to the Blowing Rock Horse Show and helped to put 26 riders in the ring in academy classes. These are classes in which the riders compete on lesson horses, with the rider being judged rather than the horse. All of our riders had good rides, some had great rides. The classes were large and competitive. I saw many friends from the horse world.
Teaching for a week reminds me how good riding is for everyone: physically, obviously, but also emotionally and mentally. I see little girls come in and hug their favorite horse. I see riders work through a challenge on a difficult horse. And most impressive are the riders who earn lesson and show privileges by working at the barn. Catching horses, grooming, tacking up, washing horse laundry, feeding and doctoring horses, hosing down a hot horse—they undertake a tremendous responsibility and are happy doing it. Our children grew up that way and I’m glad to see other children and adults take on those responsibilities. They are truly character building.
Some of the highlights of my week:
Me: “Why should you walk around the front of the horse instead of the back?”
Student: “He might poop on you.”
Me: “What are you doing in the middle of the ring?”
Student: “It’s my eye’s fault.” She had gotten dust in her eye.
Adult Student: “Why is my horse not listening?”
Me: “Because you aren’t telling him what to do.”
My wish for everyone is to be as happy as an intermediate rider being permitted to canter.
Susan Williamson is a novelist and freelance writer as well as a former extension agent, riding instructor, newspaper editor and food-coop manager. She is the author of How to Get By As Time Goes By, How to Buy Your First Horse, published by High Tide Publications. She also the author of the novels Turkmen Captives and Dead on the Trail. She is a contributor to Next Door Neighbors Magazine as well as Tidewater Women.z