It's been brutally hot here in NC. Not hot enough to keep me from standing in the middle of the ring (aka, making a living), but hot enough that I want to be a little creative in the time I get to spend with my own pony -- enter twilight bareback rides. Even if I ride him during the day, I think I'm going to keep incorporating these into the day as it's kind of like therapy for both of us.
Now, it's not totally bareback... see, I have this rediculously boney butt that likes to make horses buck me off, so for safety sake, I use a bareback pad, but I digress...
One would think I'm not being very safe anyway -- out there riding a spook of a TB in the dark, sans saddle. In fact, John shakes his head disapprovingly at the mere idea of it, but I feel perfectly fine... but once again, I digress.
My nighttime bareback jaunts and several conversations with friends while laying on the cool cement of the cross ties (trying to cool off), have me thinking about all the crazy things I did as a kid on a horse, and how those things helped shape the rider I am today. To be honest, we did some seriously crazy things... things that would have definitely been no-nos had the adults known we were doing them. BUT we were fearless, and learned from it.
I now don't have a fear of falling off (maybe I should!)... in fact, we had falling off contests. We had buckers that we'd make buck harder, twisty turny horses that jumped out of the ring, naughty ponies, naughty horses and did things like enter the high-bar class and jump over 4' when we were 8 years old riding a pony the barn had in for training (yes, my parents knew about that one). But one thing that came from our stupidity, was a healthy fear... not the bad kind, but the kind that taught us when to call it a day, and what horses wouldn't be able to get us out of certain situations... things that are important to know doing the sport that I do!
But now as an instructor, I have the dire need for my kids to be safe while they are under my jurisdiction. I like for everything to stay controlled, for their sake, as well as mine (Ask anyone who stands beside me while one of 'my kids' is in the ring... I leave bruises). BUT, I feel like they need to have some of those wild and crazy times, to learn from them. I think you need to fall off into a bush, and get stuck trying to swim your way out through the leaves (laughing the whole time). I think that you have to be around other people who have rough days, and know that NO MATTER what happens, there is a bystander standing there thinking "Man, I've been there", because everyone's been there (my favorite quote is the one that says "There are two kinds of eventers, those who have fallen in the water jump and those who are going to fall in the water jump"). I think you need to learn that horses are comics and the best way to get along with them is to laugh at their antics, even if it's thru tears.
So... now I wonder how to push my kids to that level of 'fun'. Do we send them out and turn our heads a bit while they figure some of that out? How do we teach that to the kids to only ride during a lesson once a week or once a month? We can 'teach' the emergency dismount and tuck and roll, but how do we know that they will do that when the pony is carening for the barn gate at mock-10, spooked by some bird, or blade of grass?
All things that I fear will take me a LONG time to figure out.
Until then, I guess we'll all just keep on kickin!