I had a little boy, who I have taught occasionally in the past, for a jumping lesson this week. He had requested his favourite pony but when I arrived there was a different pony down. I’m not a massive fan of this replacement pony, as he is very bouncy and I struggle to find children who are balanced enough, yet small enough for him. As soon as the rider wobbles their hands, this pony starts almost piaffing, causing them to invariably wobble even more!
So with reluctance I got this little boy mounted and we went down to the school where most of the course was still up from the weekends competition. I sent him off to explore the arena, telling him to avoid the jumps/poles but to start warming up his pony. I always find that getting kids to warm up individually, even if it’s just walking around, throws them, and they also get easily confused by jumps being in the way.
Anyway, he warmed up quite nicely and even managed a tiny bit of sitting trot. The canter work wasn’t bad and he seemed secure in his jumping position in trot and canter.
Riding a course of jumps always throws kids a bit, especially when they aren’t used to it, so I started my pony and rider trotting over a cross pole to warm up. Once jumped I asked him what he thought his pony would be like to jump. The reply was “fast”!
He was right. Once the cross was perfected we joined the first three jumps of the course together; after analysing each round I added another series, either a double or related distance.
Both boy and pony throughly enjoyed themselves. With a massive grin on his face, my rider rode through the double to little upright in a lovely balanced and steady canter. I had a couple of nerve racking moments when the chestnut pony took off slightly too far away, or my rider got left behind and wasn’t looking where he was going, but overall the pony was very honest and looked after his rider. My client rode into each fence nice and steadily, remembering to use his corners and to look at the next fence. If the pony picked up canter then he sat quietly and waited for the fence to come to him.
I thoroughly enjoyed teaching that lesson as there was so much to say and practice. This little boy is very articulate and was really beginning to think for himself when hew as riding. He beamed away through the entire lesson and I think if his pony could smile he would be grinning too, it made a nice change from lead rein lessons!