We made it back from our weekend out of town in the early afternoon on Sunday. Though I didn't expect to make it to the barn this past weekend, we ended up going out Sunday evening, and Casi had her first riding lesson on Taz! While he is being leased in my name, his owner indicated that it was okay for me to put Casi on him as long as it was only in the arena, and she was supervised. So that's exactly what we did.
Casi is mostly interested in learning some basic control and a good seat so that she can ride comfortably and safely on the trail someday. I'm hoping maybe by the end of the summer we can go on a trail ride - I can ride Taz and she can ride one of the barn owner's horses. I put Casi in my dressage saddle last night for a few reasons. The first is that it's easier (in my opinion) to learn how to post the trot in an saddle. Secondly, the seat one uses in a dressage saddle is the most similar to western (longer stirrups than used in jumping). And finally, the last reason was because I was too lazy to deal with getting my brand new latigo attached to my saddle.
We got Halo and Taz both out, groomed them, and tacked Taz up. Halo got a lesson too - in patience. We left her tied while Taz was being ridden. Up in the arena we worked on some basics of steering and halting at the walk. Casi learned about how to use her seat to rate the horse's speed, and how much directional control can be had with the leg. Taz is the perfect horse for these basic lessons because he moves so well off leg and is very responsive. One of the things I was most proud of Casi for is that she has a very natural sense of balance (probably learned through mountain biking). I never once caught her bracing on Taz's mouth for support - her seat did all the hard work. If anything, I kept having to tell her to shorten her reins a bit.
I had her walk on the rail, using her inside leg and outside rein to move Taz away from me. He likes to cut into the center to come visit, so Casi had to frequently remind him to stay on the rail. They were doing wonderfully by the end of the lesson. I also had her walk between two ground poles to work on steering, and then I set up a cone between the poles and had her halt at the cone and back up. If anything, she whoa'd too soon the first time! I told her that was great, as it's always better to have a horse stop sooner, rather than later, when asked.
At the very end we did just a little bit of sitting trot, with and without stirrups. At first Casi said she felt like she was more likely to fall off without the stirrups, but was surprised when we trotted that her seat actually felt more secure. Ah, the wonders of stirrupless riding! So next time I will have her work on a little more trotting and learning to post, as well as reinforcing the basics learned this week.
After Taz's light workout, we took him back to the hitching rail and cleaned him up. His owner asked me to put hoof dressing on him when it's been dry out, so we took care of that today. After letting him graze for a few minutes, we put him and Halo out for the night and headed home with the moon rising in the east.