Monday, November 23, 2009

Lessons with Penny

Penny is the owner of the barn that I was boarding my Warmblood "Bailey" at when I met Grace. I remembered Penny from when I was a kid. I lived down the road from local saddle club and I would ride my horse up to the Playdays they put on. A Playday might as well have been the World Show for me, it was a big deal! I would bathe my horse the day before and stay up late cleaning all my tack. I still have a trunk full of blue ribbons from those days. I also have many purple and brown ones from the weekends that Penny would haul her students to the same Playdays! They showed on the AQHA circuit and would use the Playdays to get ready for the big shows. When her big goose neck trailer pulled into the showgrounds, my friends and I would groan. We knew we wouldn't be taking home any primary colors that day.

So now I was at her barn, and Sarah who was helping me rehab Bailey recommended that I take some lessons with Penny. Sarah and I had ridden jumpers together and she was riding with Penny, Sarah felt it would help with Bailey. For out first lesson Penny told me to bring Bailey into the arena with a halter and lead rope. I remember being nervous when we walked in, not knowing what she was going to teach us. I didn't have to wonder for long because the first thing she said to me was "Today I am going to teach you how to lead your horse." WHAT? I had been jumping 4 foot fences and I had been riding since I was 7 and this lady is going to teach me to lead my horse? Just who does she think she is? Sarah was nowhere in site, she has since confessed to hiding behind the barn for that first lesson. Penny quickly pointed out that she had seen Bailey walking all over me since the day I got to her barn. "Do my horses do that to you?" No, they didn't. Her horses were some of the best behaved I had ever handled. Even the babies respected my personal space, they were nothing like the horses I had handled while working at a Hunter/Jumper Barn. "I don't allow my horses to walk on top of me, ever!" she told me.

Penny took Bailey and lead him off. He stepped right into her with his left shoulder. She stepped right back into his space and backed him off. He looked at her as to say "I jump 4 foot fences, who do you think you are teaching me to lead?" They walked off a few steps and she corrected him again. The next time they walked off all she had to do was look at him and her gave her the space she demanded. "Your turn", for the next hour I learned how to lead my horse. How to stand with my toes facing his when I stopped. How to demand respect from him just in the way I carried my body. How leading him correctly would transfer on how to ride him correctly. I had been riding for 20 years and I was just starting to learn.

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