I was debating on whether to entitle this post Lessons with a Horse or How Riding Teaches us about Life, but thought those titles would generate the wrong audience! You never know! I’ve seen some blog traffic generated by some pretty strange Google searches!
Anyway, Little One is five years old and I wants to join every possible activity available. Her entire year is filled with activities. She wants ballet, dance, curling, swimming, piano, Sparks, and riding lessons. I agree that it is great to give children the opportunity to join these kinds of activities, but I have to set a limit to just two in the Summer and two in the Fall/Winter. A) All these activities add up in $$$, B) The driving all over the place is difficult to coordinate with Hubby’s and my schedules, and C) It’s just too much. Though Little One loves all her activities, I think she’s just too busy. She gets super crabby and she’s pretty scary when she’s exhausted!
The one thing she absolutely loves every week is her riding lesson.
Riding Lessons and Life Lessons
Little One takes riding lessons at Kicking Mule Ranch. Since she showed great interest in riding, I thought it would be fun. Little did I know, she was learning so much more than how to ride a horse.
- Responsibility – Before she actually rides Elvis, she grooms him, gives him water, walks him around, and does all the steps to tack up a horse. I was really surprised that she remembered the steps and that she could do them. She’s a teeny, tiny five year old!
- Empathy – There’s something to be said about the relationship between an animal and the humans who care for them. We see this with our farm dog and farm cat and Little One. I see this each time Little One has a riding lesson too. I can’t really describe it, but I can feel it when I see the way Little One is with Elvis. She recognizes when he’s tired or wants to drink. She made me giggle (because she was so cute) when she said that she has a connection with Elvis. It’s just great to see young children interested and invested in something other than themselves. In a world where many people (adults and children alike) are self-absorbed and have the feeling of entitlement, it’s refreshing to see how something like riding lessons can enrich one’s life.
- Activity – In an age where children are dependent on electronic devices, computer games, and apps, it’s great to have an activity that requires batteries or electricity. In the Summer, especially, I like to make sure that Little One has lots of “unplugged” time. She does get some TV and computer time, but we monitor that very carefully. It’s so easy for kids to become couch potatoes if they have too much TV and gadget time. It’s Summer! Spend it outdoors! Be active! With riding, she’s engaged and outside –where she wants to be.
- Discipline – Following steps and routines are important. Little One has been learned how to get Elvis to go, stop, turn right, turn left, trot, and this is through repeated sequences. Discipline is systematic instruction intended to train and I see this with each riding lesson Little One has with Elvis.
- Self-confidence – There’s nothing more wonderful than seeing your child’s face light up when she has accomplished something. Little One has been getting really good at getting Elvis to turn left, right, stop and go on her own. Though she’s a very serious kid when trying to complete a task, I did see a big smile. She was overflowing with self-confidence! That is a good thing to see since she is an otherwise quiet and slightly timid child.
As a parent, there are certain life lessons I want Little One to learn. I know she needs to learn through experience. She will succeed at some and fail at some. That’s just a part of life. I hope she learns from her experiences, both good and bad. I hope that she discovers that lessons can be learned through negative experiences as well as positive ones.
In the meantime, I believe experiences like taking riding lessons will help her. I want her to be a good person, treat others with kindness, be empathetic and sensitive to others’ feelings. I want her to learn about responsibility and accountability. I’m laughing at the last part, as we had an incident last night where she was clearly guilty, but tried to shrug off responsibility. She was covered in hand cream/lotion, but tried to pass blame on her cousins. Meanwhile, her cousins weren’t even in the room! Ah! Kids! Baby steps…
Riding lessons have definitely been bringing many life lessons to Little One. A big thank you to Jen (Little One’s riding instructor), Willie (the owner of Kicking Mule Ranch), and of course, a BIG thank you to Elvis!