I had seen some horsemanship classes offered through the Fairfax County Parks and Rec department, but they're all for kids. Before I signed up one of the kids for a daycamp type thing, we thought it would be better to try Stonelea Farms homeschool class, to gauge interest. This is us getting boots and helmets on.
Tacking up. We got to brush the horse and learn a little about how to walk around a horse and make sure the horse knows where you are at all times.
This is Ms. Lucia, she owns the farm, and leads a lot of the instruction.
This is English-style riding, so the saddles have no saddle horns, and are a lot smaller than western saddles. Each of us had a helper to guide us through the process of mounting and positioning ourselves. My horse was named Adara.
Carson's horse was named Cricket.
Keith's horse was named Taz.
Here I am trying to do 'jumping position'. Super hard. You have to always have your heels pointed down to the ground, knees bent, and hold the reins with thumbs up, like you're holding two ice cream cones.
Tucker's horse was named Misty.
While walking, you always keep the heels pointed down and knees bent, which is super hard to do - it just didn't feel natural to me. We each had a chance to try cantering, which is a quick trot in a circle. We were to move with the horse's motions, which was really difficult. Also, you put your boot in only part of the way into the stirrups, which makes it even harder to point your heels down!
Savannah's horse was named Soda Pop. She would have named him Rusty.
In english-style riding, you always do something called 'posting' while walking or trotting. You move your hips forward with the same rhythm that the horse is bouncing. Here's a short video that shows posting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHbwQEzrHeQ
The horses were a little sweaty afterwards, and we got to help sponge off the sweat. It was like washing a car. They even gave us squeegees to get most of the water off.
Overall, we were all able to ride our horses around the arena for about 45 minutes. We learned a lot about english-style riding and would like to try a western-style riding lesson someday. Seems like western-style has less rules about how to put your feet in the stirrups and how to position your body while riding. We all enjoyed being able to have lots of riding time.