Learning the Ropes
Ranching is a family business. At least it is around here. We are fortunate enough to live on a family owned and operated ranch. Not only that, but we have four generations that get to work on the ranch together. Blessed is what we are. But if we want all four generations to get to do much work together, we've got some teaching to do.
We've been ponying kids around the place since they were big enough to have the balance required to stay sitting up on a moving quadruped. But as the older boys, including three 6 year olds and one 5 year old, started getting bigger and more coordinated, we got to thinking they could use some horses to build confidence on and really learn to ride. One of my sister-in laws already has a horse that treats the kids pretty well and the ranch owns a GIANT blue horse that we have turned our boy loose on a time or two, but the fact that he handles a lot like a Mack truck makes him a little hard for little people to motivate. So the search began.
We were lucky enough to stumble across a pair of ponies that were just what we were looking for. They are indeed still ponies in that they are hard headed and have a good amount of sass. But these two girls have been patient and aside from one wild bucking incident (incited by a foal) we have had a great time with these girls. We spent a lot of last summer, especially, working with the boys to build their confidence and try to work on their technical skills. This includes starting with brushing your horse down and getting your horse saddled correctly. Stepping on the correct side of the horse, and how to get your horse to stop, go, turn... all of the basic things that you don't think about much when you've been riding for a while that make a huge difference when you're just starting out.
My nephews that live over the mountain get in as much practice as they can while they are here. Tess and I have been starting to work with the four older kids that live here again this summer. You can tell the boys benefited from their work last year and we are hoping they get lots of chances to ride with their dads and move cows. Learning to ride correctly does not mean you know how to handle cattle. That is a whole other discussion to be saved for another day. Thankfully those skills can be learned with experience. For now, Tess and I will continue working with the kids on their posture and hand placement, stirrups and latigos, and the ranch-work can help them learn the ropes.
By Megan Greet