Saturday, May 2

First riding lesson in awhile

Greetings. Here's the first of hopefully many new and exciting entries to come. I've started horseback riding again, this time at a therapeutic riding center. Those interested in therapeutic riding can check the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association website. Among other things, you can view a list of riding centers in your state or area, and in many cases visit their websites to read more about what they offer individually. This was how I found the center that I'm riding at. It's good to be back at a therapeutic center and "back in the saddle again." Enjoy.


This is a journal that I’m starting and will hopefully keep up after each of my riding lessons at the therapeutic riding center I’m now attending. The owner/instructor, Brenda, asked me to do this, so I could keep a record of what I worked on and remind myself of it later. When she said this, I think she meant that I was supposed to just write a few sentences on what I learned and covered that day. Me being me though, those “few sentences” are turning into their own journal.

Today’s first lesson had me being introduced to Paint, a paint colored horse standing about 15.2 hands high. Shortly after I arrived and was shown to the area in front of several stalls where I would be grooming Paint, or any horse I would be riding, he was led in and I helped hook him up to some cross ties, so that he couldn’t wander off. I was shown where a tack box was and told to start grooming. I did a lot of grooming at the last riding center I was at, so I quickly started asking to what extent I was to groom. After a few questions and answers, Brenda said, “It looks like you’re going to be our grooming expert.” I learned that they just do a simple groom with the curry comb and a brush, and that’s about it. I was glad to hear this since I had done lots more extensive grooming at the other place, and there were times when this got tiresome. After all, I’m there to ride, not spend the whole time grooming.

Anyway, after grooming Brenda brought out a dressage saddle to show me. The dressage saddles are much more cushioned than the western or English saddles. This helps the saddle absorb the weight of the rider, which is good in my case. They also help to assist in balancing the rider. After riding in a dressage saddle, I like it lots more than the other two types I’ve used.

Our lesson consisted of me walking Paint down to the arena, mounting him, and then riding around in various directions in the arena. During the lesson, my balance was spot on. I was somewhat surprised since it has been several months since I’ve ridden a horse. I suppose balance on a horse is like balance on a bike in a way: you never forget how. Anyway, one other thing about the dressage saddle is that there’s a riding strap around where the hand hold would be on a Western saddle. Brenda admitted that even she uses this strap, so not to feel awkward about holding onto it. She had me at one point raise each of my arms over my head to stretch out the muscles in my arms and back. We talked about the position of the legs and thighs and how to make the horse speed up or slow down mainly with the legs, but also with words. Over all, it was a good lesson.

When done, I dismounted in the arena and helped lead Paint back to the cross ties and give him a quick brushing before we left. My Seeing Eye dog, Gucci, was tied to the rail of the arena and was able to see me during the whole lesson. There were a couple of times that we passed near her when riding and she had a look on her face like, “Hey wait a minute, don’t leave me here. I want to come too.” Someone was available to walk with Gucci to and from the arena and hold her when I was occupied with Paint.

Paint will be the horse I’ll start out with, but not the horse I’ll stay with. I’ve learned that he’s a good walking, balance and beginning trotting horse, but that at some point, I’ll be moved to another horse. I’m secretly hoping for one of the taller horses, but then again, I was grateful for the shorter distance when I dismounted today. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to go since my attendance may depend on transportation and drivers, but for now at least, my next lesson is next week at 8am. Until then.

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