I often ask my followers for suggestions on blog posts they would like to see, and an anonymous individual wrote in my ask that I should do a series on my “first” when it comes to riding. I decided for my very first post in this series, I would focus on my first riding lesson.
My first riding lesson was at a very popular public stable in the next town over. It had a great reputation and a stellar riding instructor/barn manager who grew up with George Morris and Margie Engle, to name a few. My first lesson was not with her because she taught the intermediate and advanced kids; rather, it was with an instructor named Julie. To start, all beginner riders began on the lunge line, which is probably a great way to start new riders off with riding.
I rode a small pinto pony named Chocolate Chip who is probably deceased by now, sadly, because he was old back when I was still riding at this stable (a good 10 years ago). He was the main go-to for little kids to ride during their first lessons and when they were getting their bearings as riders. He was one of those awesome lesson ponies that put up with a lot of “crap” so to speak.
My first lesson was on a hot summer day in July. I don’t remember much about it except I learned how to check tack, safety around horses, and I also learned the basics of a good position (eyes up, heels down, straight line from your shoulders, hip, ankle, straight line from bit to elbow, etc.) While I did not do much during my first lesson except work on these things at the walk (and a little bit at the trot), I was hooked after my first lesson, and my poor parents ended up having to deal with a horse crazy kid up until now.
One funny story about my very first riding lesson is I used to be terrified of thunderstorms when I was younger. I don’t really know why they scared me so much, but of course, during my first lesson, a storm began to roll in. I heard the claps of thunder in the distance, and I freaked out. Thankfully, my lesson was pretty much over so I did not miss much riding time. However, I shot out of that ring and down the pathway to the barn like a banshee because of how afraid of thunder I was. I did throw quite an embarrassing fit about being “outside” during a storm. I was in a barn, but it wasn’t completely closed off to the outside, so that was not secure enough for my fear-ridden brain. Despite that, I came back for another lesson the following week, and I rode at that stable up until I was about 17 years old when I became an Assistant Instructor there.
Unfortunately, the barn, while in good condition, did need some improvements and updates, so when I was around 16 years old, the town decided to close the barn for renovations. My trainer rented some space at a barn some ways away to try and keep the business afloat, but after a while, it turned out not to be economically feasible for her. She ended up giving away the remaining school horses (they all went to loving homes – most of which were former students who had fallen in love with them and could take them on), and my beloved barn closed. This began my barn hopping situation that lasted for about 2 years until I found the barn where I purchased Tempo, my first pony and another first about which I will be writing.