I took a friends daughter out to see Sam today. Emily is 9 years old (I think) and last year she was having riding lessons with the local riding school. Due to their price rise her mum hasn't been able to afford for her to continue with lessons.
My plan was to ride Sam, let Emily have a ride, wash Sam, clean his paddock and water trough etc. I picked Emily up and we headed out to the paddock. Emily and I haven't really met before so it was a big thing for Emily to come with me. I also don't have children, never really had a lot to do with children so sometimes find it hard to interact with them. Emily just chatted away which was fine by me! We got out to the paddock and took our gear over to the stables and off we went to catch Sam. I pointed him out and poor Emily her eyes nearly popped out of her head - 'He is so big!" Sam came over to the gate to greet us and I put his halter on. She gave him some cookies and just patted him while he munched away. I handed her the lead rope and started walking back to the stables. Emily did really well following and I was proud of Sam as well, he put his head down and walked quietly next to her - he didn't even try to stop and grab a bite while walking!
I showed Emily how to tie a quick release knot for Sam, how to unrug a horse, how to pick up their hooves. She did really well, a little timid but I think she was in awe of Sam's size. He kept sniffing her and putting his nose in the way when she tried to brush him! I though it was cute. Sam seems to like kids - Piper - the little girl where he came from - Sam loved her, he would rest his nose on her head and just breath.
I saddled Sam up and took him out to the riding area. I wanted to ride him first because I hadn't ridden in two days and yesterday Sam seemed quite fresh when I took him out for a pick. Of course I had nothing to worry about, Sam was lethargic (it was midday) and really didn't feel like working. After warming him up I asked Emily to read out my dressage test - I knew the test but I thought this would be good for her, watch, read, learn what I was doing. I read through the test with her first and explained some things and she did really well.
It was Emily's turn to hop on Sam. I was really nervous. I didn't know how Sam would cope with a beginner rider. The balance, the unintentional bump on the mouth, the clumsy aids. Sam was a champion. He walked to slowly and was really listening to my voice and verbal commands. Emily practiced halting and walking and changing the rein. Then we tried to trot. Sam decided that he had done enough work today and that walking would be enough. I ended up having to jog in front of him so he would follow me. We did this and then Emily was able to take him out onto the circle. She did well. Sam wouldn't stay on the circle so she had to steer as well as keeping him going. She changed the rein through the walk and trotted on the other rein. This was Sam's bad side and she did really well. We then practiced at a walk, walking over trot poles and through them, keeping Sam really straight. I found this helped with Emily figuring out how little pressure she needed to use to get Sam to go where she wanted him to go.
We then tried to trot again and this time I wanted her to change the rein at trot outside the circle. I realise now that this was a little too much for Emily and possibly even Sam. It meant Emily turning Sam towards the gate and Sam had had enough so he didn't really listen. Poor Emily got a little confused on how to turn him and they ended up trotting down the paddock at a zig zag with Sams trot getting bigger. Emily coped really well she just pulled Sam around in a smaller circle and I was using my voice to get him to walk. He walked and then halted on his own. Emily wanted to hop off, she said she was alright and not scared but I was still worried.
I jumped back on and practiced the test one more time. If he stays calm on the day I am happy with him poking his nose out slightly and being a little strung out.
We then untacked Sam and let him have a good roll in the sand. Emily thought this was hilarious because Sam would turn around and around before dropping, just like a dog!
We washed him and had to do it twice to get all the sand out of his coat. He is getting clipped in the morning so I had to make sure he was squeaky clean. While Sam dried we sat under the tree watching him and eating out lunch. We left him out in the riding area to have a pick while we went and cleaned his paddock and water trough. Of course half way through I hear Sam screaming out! I had left him with the other horses but for some reason Sam doesn't like being out there on his own. I went to catch him and bring him around to the paddock and he trots up to me and then just follows me over to his halter. I guess I can't leave him out there to have a pick - Strange horse!
I rugged Sam to try and keep him clean and took Emily home. Her mum tells me she didn't stop talking all afternoon. She got a second by second description of what we did. I am so glad that Emily enjoyed herself. I think I will do it again.
I went back out in the early evening to feed Sam his dinner and he was very good and hadn't rolled! I have the camera ready to take photos of him before and after his clip! I am a little anxious!