Confession: My Children Are Braver Than Me
I’m 40-years old. I’ve experienced a lot in life and still have a lot to learn. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t learning from my own three children; especially, when it comes to riding horses.
Case in point- I rode bareback for the first time two weeks ago. I was terrified and looked like a sack of potatoes mounting up. I’m not flexible, nor have I ever been graceful. Luckily my pony, Ferrous, is saintly. It took me nine years back in the saddle as an adult to work up the courage to even mount and walk bareback, much less trot. But we did it! Ferrous’s conformation is high-withered and narrow like a thoroughbred, so the padding is necessary for my lady bits to remain intact. I borrowed a bareback pad and had so much fun that I invested in one of my own so that I could ride bareback at least once a week. Riding without a saddle has positively affected my seat and leg in my close contact saddle and trail saddle. In fact, my legs were much less tense as a result, and I was able to lower my stirrups a few holes.
It was exhilarating. I could feel every movement underneath me, and explore how the slightest adjustment to my core and seat caused Ferrous to respond. But I was still nervous to canter even though it crossed my mind. Maybe I will get the confidence when there is no one there to watch me and provide critiques.
Less than a week later, I went to the barn during pony camp to film a product review. Two of the young girls, both with their horses, wanted to ride bareback for the first time with their trainer. In one hour they walked, trotted, rode backward, cantered and then jumped- all without a saddle! Color me slightly ashamed that I let my nerves prevent me from having so much fun when I was younger. I probably wouldn’t be as nervous as I am today if I had felt confident riding bareback while young,
Two days later my twins were begging to ride bareback as well. There must be something in the well water. Since they are still new to riding and I’m a worrier, I helped them mount on our new bareback pad.
My timid daughter wanted to be led and needed her own reins. She is like the adult equestrian in me. Passionate, but unsure and wanted to do things at her own pace. She loves it more than anything, but has a little anxiety about it.
I convinced her to hold the lead rope tied to the halter and let me walk next to them. She was hesitant at first but gained confidence quickly.
My sassy little girl was determined to ride without reins and trot! She is fearless and is the only one of my daughters to have fallen off already. It was a great example of equestrian resilence. Last year she was walking along on a Shetland Pony when the pony decided to stop and scratch her nose on her leg. Ashlyn’s reins were pulled forward abruptly and she rolled right down her neck on the ground. Her trainer and I stood still, waiting for her reaction. She stood up immediately, dusted off her britches, and said, “How do I get back on this thing?”
It was hard for me to let her handle that on her own, but I knew that it was the right thing. And we were so impressed by her reaction.
Her motto with bareback riding? “I’ll just grab mane if I’m nervous”, she said. Because she didn’t have reins, I used a lead rope in case of emergency only. She had so much fun and loved his bouncy trot.
Ferrous was a good sport and really is a prince among unicorns to deal with us all. But I was really proud of my daughters and they gave me something to think about. We all handle new things differently. Some of us are nervous and some need to be challenged. The important thing is to try new things and go at your own pace.