Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Learning to lead a younger generation

By Kierra Reichert,
MVRU junior team member and volunteer

Kierra assisting a young rider at Little Star Horse Camp
This spring and summer, in addition to riding, I have also been helping with younger kids’ lessons.  I started working in these lessons about two years ago. It’s been a great learning experience and a way to look at my growth as a horse person and part of the ranch. When I was first starting lessons at the ranch, I was always looking up to and following the older girls. They helped me groom the horse, they led me in the lessons, they offered bits of advice and help all the time. Growing up to be one of those girls is a really special experience. I still look up to and follow the older girls who are my role models; but also being able to teach, help, and lead a younger generation in their own love of horses is in itself a learning curve and step up in horsemanship.

Through working with younger ‘horsey’ kids, it has been interesting to see each kid’s interaction with the horses. Some are bolder, and have either been around horses before or are more confident in new situations. Some are much more timid, and don’t gain their confidence until they have spent a significant amount of time around the horses. Sometimes a kid will pick out one horse that they will grow with and build their confidence around, while others like to experience many different horses, learning as they go with each new horse. It is also interesting to see how sometimes, a kid will suddenly decide they prefer a different horse after just seeing it. For instance, when I was helping with the Little Star Camp earlier in the season, I was working with a very timid, quiet little girl, who wasn’t very comfortable around horses yet. She had just come from a lesson on Ginger, who is extremely well behaved and loves little kids, and was now scheduled to ride Little Black. She brought her grooming bucket out to him, and I introduced her.  As soon as she had tentatively patted his shoulder and Annie came by and said “and look- he’s just your size!”, there was a change.  She looked at him, nodded and began grooming him quite enthusiastically. Just because Little Black was about one hand shorter than Ginger, she felt more comfortable. Each day of camp after that, she asked to see Little Black. 

Good friends: Kierra and Little Black
  This demonstrates in many lights how horses will play a big role in the development of people of all ages. Being around horses empowers and builds the confidence of people, while still posing a challenge and also awareness for another animal.  Just like the little girl, sometimes it takes time and just the right words or moments to make a change; or with others, it may happen even more gradually, just through spending time with these exquisite animals. 

Looking back on my progress, reflected in various ways in each of these young riders, it is really interesting to see how their original attitudes affect their first experience, then change, or sometimes build, through more of their time with horses. Working in the younger kids’ lessons has helped me truly understand how to work with the horse, while balancing that with the needs and ability of the rider; important skills that have helped me in my lessons.

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