First Cold Front? Summer is Over?

Today is the last day in July, and it kind of feels like the last day of summer. The weather people say we will be getting a cold front today at lunch, which is crazy. Texas isn’t exactly known for having a short summer, and it hasn’t actually been over 100 yet. Maybe we are going to have an early fall? Of course, most people who know me know fall is my favorite season, so I definitely won’t be complaining.

Anyways, we have been crazy busy this summer. You might think summer is a time for relaxing for “full time students,” but its not. We have been working hard to make progress on our research at work and also find time to ride the ponies. I have been working hard teaching my lessons and even helping with summer camp [now that’s a flashback]. Somehow though, I have actually been riding Jellybean very successfully.

Jellybean is mostly at the point where she needs lots of miles. She walk/trots/canters with minimal cues (although I always carry the dressage whip in case she thinks she doesn’t have to). She stops pretty easily and turns ok. She is learning to check things out before she spooks and she is being ridden all over the farm. I want to take her on an off site trail ride as soon as we get the trailers, etc organized. She is still growing, and is currently taller in the back then the front. I really really hope she levels out, but since I have never actually seen her parents, and I have no idea of their breeding its just luck of the draw. Some of her recent achievements: walking over a cross country log, bridling easier, and being ridden bareback around the farm.

Gracie has been showing the most improvement. I took a lesson with Maggie recently, and she helped me figure Gracie out just a bit. I previously attributed Gracies lack of willingness to canter to her lack of strength. She seemed to me like she was having trouble carrying a person in a less collected canter. So Robert tried a few times to get her moving and she became increasingly resistant to the canter. She started throwing small bucks and rears to evade the forward motion. I put a couple of training rides on her, and Robert backed off asking her to canter for a few weeks. Then we went on vacation.

So when Maggie was helping me with Gracie, she was on the ground telling me to push push push her forward. I didn’t bring my stuck-to-the-horse seat that day, and I was having some trouble. So she volunteered to ride her around a bit. And then Gracie was cantering around. We decided that this should be treated more like a sour lesson horse situation then a weakness.

And wow what a change. Riding Gracie carrying a dressage whip is like riding her in another world. She listens and goes forward and canters off without a fit. Go figure. So Robert has been riding her in his lessons and really enjoying his time cantering around. They even jumped some cross country logs the other day!

So now Robert is working on his seat again, and Gracie is being well behaved for the most part! Sounds like a win all around to me ūüôā Anyway, the end of summer is fast approaching and we will be back to teaching and working and trying to fit some riding in. I hope to have more to talk about soon ūüôā

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Guest Post: Its a dog’s life for me… until they put me in the car

Some highlights of Byron’s vacation:
Why are we awake at 4am?

This car is uncomfortable.

Whoop! Kentucky!

This porch is ok, Philo OH is kind of slow.

Roscoe was a cool enough guy. He had a big yard in Dublin, OH

He isn’t fancy enough to sleep on the couch (and I was being naughty)

Geneva-on-the-Lake is more my speed. Cool weather and great sunshine.

Down in NC I met this crazy kid, Bubba

We really got to know one another.

Now here was a nice place. I got to hang out with Comet, who was ok and sleep!

I didn’t wannt stand too close to Comet, she was too pretty.

Where to now!?

The water in Linville, NC was tasty!

Aren’t we cute?

I don’t wanna miss Amanda coming back! No water for me!

Ok, so we’re traveling again?

How did this get in my photos?

Upside down building!

Amanda can’t take pictures of signs.

Almost home!

Thank goodness!

Back to my home state ūüôā

Whew. Made it. Time to catch up on sleep.

Pine Hill Horse Show

Hey everybody,

I finally got some time to talk to Knots yesterday about the horse trial he and Amanda went to this past weekend.  He gave me all the gossip so I thought I would pass it on to you guys!

So, it all started on Saturday morning when Amanda and Robert came to the barn to get Knots and Panda ready to go.  There were baths and mane pulling and clipping of ponies everywhere!   Then they tied Knots and Panda in the stalls while the humans went to eat lunch.

When they got back that was when the real fun started.  Packing of tack and loading of horses into the trailer, I am not good with time but I feel like this took longer than expected.  This is where the first hand account leaves and all of the rest I heard from Knots.

After the long and hot ride down to a place called Bellville, Tx Knots and Panda were taken to their home away from home. ¬†A swanky little 10×10 stall under a huge pavilion. There were quite possibly 100 stalls set up under this building and all of them were full of strange new faces to meet. ¬†Knots said it wasn’t too bad since Amanda remembered to bring hay and grain. ¬†Once everyone got settled in for the night Knots says they had a huge party with all the new horses. ¬†They wanted to stay up late but the trailer ride really tired him out.

Bright and early Sunday morning Knots saw Robert at the new barn! He was moderately excited to see another familiar face but he had no time to chat since Amanda already had him tacked up and about to head to dressage warm-up.  He said Sarah was there to help Amanda see all of his tricks and calm him down before they did their dressage test.  And suddenly it was time!   He said he gets so nervous when he is in the dressage arena because every move he makes is looked at by EVERYONE!  Well, he may be a bit of a drama llama but, I can understand the pressure. Knots said they did great!  He was a little confused on the canter departures since Amanda was nervous too.  Everyone said they did a great job though.  Whew, I am tired just relating this.  I am glad Knots got a rest and snack between dressage and stadium jumping.

After snack and lunch for the humans, Knots got all dressed up in his jumping gear! ¬†Oh my I bet he looked dashing in his jumping saddle, running martingale, and that sleek looking saddle pad. ¬†I’ll have to ask Amanda for a picture to hang in my stall…. ¬† #dreamy
Knots said there were 8 jumps in the arena and he had never seen any of them before! ¬†Sounds scary…. He told me that he just had to trust Amanda that the jumps were jumpable and that when he let her support him they did great. ¬†Not even a single rail knocked down! ¬† Good job Knots!

Then it was time for another break and a snack. (Eventing doesn’t sound so bad with all of these snacks!) ¬†After an hour, it was back in the tack for the cross country round. ¬†Now this sounds like fun! ¬†Cantering through the woods trying to clear 12 jumps in a specific time? ¬†Is it a race? ¬†Is it a challenge? ¬†Knots said it was so much fun. He got to run through the woods and through some water (yuck!) and jump everything in sight. ¬†He was very happy to carry Amanda over everything and let her enjoy the ride.

After all the riding was done Knots got lots of love and pats and “good boys” from everyone there. ¬†Everyone was waiting for the scores to be posted…. How did we do? ¬†Knots was confused, all the people left him in his stall and ran down to the scorers table. ¬†Turns out that Amanda and Knots took SECOND PLACE!!!! ¬†WOOOOOOOO!!! ¬†Go Team!

When they got back last night both Amanda and Knots looked tired but victorious. ¬†I am so proud and happy for my human. ¬†I am glad that I am Amanda’s pony. ¬†With a trainer like her I know I will win ribbons too! ¬†Knots says he thinks I can win 1st place someday. ¬†I hope he is right.

I will see if I can get pictures from Amanda.

So long for now,

The JellyBean Horse ¬† ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧

Thoughts on Teaching Lessons

At this point, if you are following along with the blog, you may have noticed hints of this other fun thing I do in my spare time, teaching riding lessons. I usually have between two and ten students, and they are between 8-70 years old, although this blog touches on children. I teach newbies just starting out and I have even taught lessons to help students branch out of their disciplines. I have been teaching lessons off and on since I learned how to ride. I started out as an assistant helping my instructor at summer camp. Eventually I was teaching lessons at summer camp and leading trail rides. I took a break through much of high school and got started again at the end of college and the beginning of graduate school.

I guess all this background to say that there were two definitive phases of my teaching philosophy so far, and I expect my ideas will continue to change as I have more experiences. During my younger teaching days, I spent a lot of time working with temporary “students.” We worked with visitors at conferences, just in for the weekend. We worked with students at summer camp, and we worked with very small children for their first lessons. At this point, the central focus of my duties was always safety. Safety safety safety. I needed to make sure the people I was helping didn’t inadvertently hurt themselves as they were learning. This focus on safety gave me the tools to really pay attention to what others were doing around horses. And in fact, it made me very uncomfortable in several situations where the safety focus was not present. There are, of course, pros and cons to this approach, but it definitely gave me a solid foundation.
During and after college, I have really had the opportunity to develop my own teaching style. I have taken this safety focus and evolved it. I have learned how to make sure the lessons are engaging and fun, and level appropriate. I work very hard to ensure my students are progressing at an appropriate speed. Sometimes that means cantering, and other times that means trotting patterns for additional weeks. I really work hard to push my students out of their comfort zones in a safe, growth focused way. Now, don’t misunderstand. Sometimes I push my students too much and I must back down to an easier lesson, but many times I am rewarded by watching their new found confidence.¬†
That is the part I find rewarding, and why I spend my precious extra time teaching lessons. I do appreciate working off my board, but I don’t make enough money to justify the time and worry I spend. I take value from seeing my students succeed. I like it when they choose new challenges, and learn that “can’t” is not a word in our vocabulary. I am always pleased when I switch horses and students who were scared to ride another horse have a successful lesson. Mostly I just want to teach the children entrusted to my care how to be independent thinkers, and how to think critically through the wide variety of challenges horses present.¬†