a riding lesson

My older daughter fusses that I never come take pictures of her riding lessons.

I find it interesting that instead of asking me to come watch, she wants me to “come take pictures.” Does she equate picture-taking with focused attention? Does she think the only way I see my children is through a lens? Or maybe she thinks that photographing an activity gives it higher merit? On the other hand, maybe she’d just like to have some pictures of her sweet self on a horse? I suppose it could be as straightforward as that.

Anyway, last week (or the week before? I don’t remember) I attended her afternoon riding lesson. She was slated to jump—it’d be her second time jumping a horse. She was excited. I was curious. The horse was frisky.

The first part of the lesson consisted of her riding the horse all over the ring while the instructor called out instructions (because that’s what instructors do, duh). Problem was, I couldn’t understand what they were saying. As the lesson progressed, I started to understand the key phrases, but all the little stuff in between? No idea. It was a different language completely.

Such focus!

Please note: I am alarmingly oblivious as to what exactly it is that my daughter is doing. It was a month or two in to her farm work that I learned what kind of lessons she’s having (an idea in itself that is mildly bewildering because I didn’t know there are more than one kind of riding lessons). The riding lessons she’s taking are called dressage, pronounced, according to the locals here, “drah and then “sage,” as in corsage. It’s French and it’s fancy and it’s a full body-brain sport. It’s also beautiful to watch.

(As further proof of my slowness, it wasn’t until last week at the barn when I heard her say, So and so started taking lessons here because she wanted to learn “leg yield” that it finally clicked: Oh! The horses are taught to YIELD to your LEG. There is rein work, too, yes—when she first started she got blisters between her fingers—but the legs are doing the driving. How cool is that?)

Back to the lesson. The instructor told her to take the horse to a trot, though not in those word, of course. The horse sped up and suddenly my daughter started rising up in the saddle and settling back down every two beats. It was so unexpected that I actually gave a start. It was like dancing, graceful and precise. (I’ve since done some research. It’s called posting on the diagonal. I think.)

Walking the horse over the bars. 
For the jumping part, they raised them a couple feet at one end.

And then there was the jumping. This was only the second time my daughter had ridden this particular horse, which happened to be a strong-willed, feisty, and alarmingly large animal. Much time was spent getting the horse to walk in tight circles, stop and start, slow, walk over the bars, etc. Finally, at just the right moment, the instructor gave the green light. Up and over went the horse. The workers applauded and cheered. The instructor came over to make sure we understood the full magnitude of that jump. I didn’t, of course, but I appreciated that everyone else did.

And then the lesson was over.

Getting her head as close to the powerful hind feet as possible. 
I took a picture and then dedicated all my energy to not thinking too hard.

This same time, years previous: rellenitos, the quotidian (7.23.13), pumpkin seed pesto, cucumber lemon water, birthday revisited, limeade concentrate, brown sugar granola, and Dutch puff.    


  • Kathryn

    If it's any help, if you are to going to be kicked by a horse it is actually safest to be as close as possible! I hope those shoes are strong enough to protect her toes from errant feet though. She is brave to work on a lively horse, especially doing something she hasn't done much of.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Jennifer for those lovely photos of Becca on that stately horse. It brought back memories of when I used to ride, however, I never intentionally jumped with a horse. I could tell many horse stories—maybe that’s where she got her love of horses—from her Great Grandma! You know what comes next don’t you—a horse of her own!! Luv you both. lk

  • Margo

    she looks so fantastic up on that beautiful horse! I'm so pleased for her (and jealous). I adore horses and especially dressage (has she read White Stallion of Lipizza by Margeurite D'Angeli? My favorite. It's an oldie, probably in the library).

  • Anonymous

    Do you ever ask her what it is that she's doing? I'm sure she'd be glad to explain posting, and jumping, and all of the things she is learning in her lessons.

    • Jennifer Jo

      She tells me ALL about it, just not in technical terms. I get those from the adults she's working with. Plus, because this is the first serious riding she's done, she doesn't know any other way—the uniqueness of her experience feels normal to her. (And it IS normal. It's just not what I thought was normal.)

  • Mama Pea

    I'm so glad she got Mom to come and take pictures! She looks beautiful and very competent on and with the horse. "Working" for her lessons . . . what a great arrangement.

  • dr perfection

    I had a resident whose main interest in life was horses and dressage. She was addicted. It looks really beautiful. Beccaboo is so lucky to have this neighbor, this job, and these lessons.

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