Monday, November 19, 2012


A few years ago, I never would have guessed that horses would become a part of my/our life.  Then, Rachel - our resident animal lover - began asking to take riding lessons.  After about two years of asking, we finally signed her up.  She has been taking lessons for three years now.  After tagging along on trips to the barn for Rachel's lessons, Megan quickly developed an interest and began asking for lessons as well.  She began riding about a year ago in fall 2011.  Both of them truly love it.  They are happy to groom the horses, feed the horses, clean their tack (saddles, bridles, etc.), and don't even seem to mind shoveling up horse poop.

Horseback riding is not an inexpensive sport.  Aside from the basic lesson fees, there is certain equipment that must be purchased including helmets, riding boots, & riding pants.  Fortunately, our girls haven't started doing formal shows yet (although they think they want to).  Participating in formal shows can easily cost as much as $300-500 per kid!!!  Ouch!!!  (We'll put that off as long as humanly possible!)  It also bothers me a bit, to be honest, that my girls don't play team sports. Growing up, I played basketball and softball.  Rachel tried softball for a season and was really good at it, but just didn't enjoy it.  I worry that they will miss out on the whole teamwork and sportsmanship concepts.

On the up side, though, horseback does teach them some good discipline and responsibility. If the horse they are riding relieves himself, guess who cleans it up??  They do!  If they forget to put any of their equipment away properly, they must work it off with an extra chore at their next lesson.  Of course, just being around the horses requires self-control and paying attention so as not to startle the horses.  And, although it doesn't seem to be an "active" sport, it really does require physical effort.  They must use their legs muscles to squeeze and nudge the horse.  They must sit up straight in the saddle.  It requires balance and coordination.  It also demands a certain level of fortitude as they ride outdoors in the extreme heat and the freezing cold.

More than anything, though, it makes them happy.  They love being around the horses (and the dogs and cats at the barn).   They have both made great progress, too, and their dedication is admirable.

Although we don't yet participate in formal shows, the barn where they take lessons hosts an informal show twice a year.  The fall show was this weekend and they both did great.  Megan got a 4th place and a 2nd place ribbon (however we all agree her 4th place should have been higher - we're a little biased, I guess) and Rachel got a 2nd and a 1st place.  Rachel also did a jump for the first time in a show and was supremely proud of that achievement!  Here are some pictures:

Rachel and Pixie - the newest addition to the barn family.  I think Rachel loves her as much as she loves the horses!

Megan and Penelope getting ready for a lesson.

Mac & Davanti.  The girls don't ride these big boys yet, but they sure are pretty!

Leo - He's a gentle giant that the girls do ride occasionally.

Megan on Penelope after the show. 
Rachel on Penelope warming up for the show - look at that smile!

Rachel and Penelope after the show.
I didn't forget about Emily in this post.  She, however has little to no interest in the horses.  When she goes to the barn, her allergies go into overdrive and she is pretty miserable.  Most of the time, she just stays in the car to avoid the seemingly inevitable allergy attack.  Given her nervousness regarding heights, I doubt she would be very happy up in a saddle either.  At the shows, though, she survives with a little help from warm clothes, yummy concessions, and lots of  hugs and kisses from the grandparents!!!

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