Claire, Ava, Juliana with Susan instructing.

By Dan Roark

Eduardo and both Susans on Monday.

After the weather of the weekend and the first of the week drenched the little universe we call New Hope, Spring lessons finally began on Wednesday with the outer half of the arena unusable. Actually, they began on Monday, with Eduardo getting his lesson in the fog and drizzle, but it kept raining, causing the majority of lessons to be canceled. The lesson pictured – on Wednesday – was one of the two lessons canceled on Tuesday. The regular Wednesday night lessons were canceled. Thursday lessons tonight are anyone’s guess. There is, however, a training class for volunteers tonight at 5 p.m. [Look for that post tomorrow.]

Claire, Ava, and Juliana are the oldest of the younger riders. As I have mentioned before, they are also volunteers when necessary. They braved the still chill air and kept the horses – Sierra, Rain, and Chito, respectively – in the inner half of the arena. They practiced using their bodies to let the horse(s) know what the rider needs him or her to do when going through a turn. “In dressage,” Susan explained, “the riders split the saddle into quadrants, shifting their bodies into the particular quadrant to let the horse know to move in that particular direction.” Translating from dressage into western riding, Susan continued, “body shifting helps when barrel riding,” for example.

In an illustration of how much time and work it takes to “become one with a horse” as it were – getting to know the horse and getting him/her  to know you is another way of putting it –  after an hour of riding in specific patterns, the horses had had enough. While the weather was a factor, it is always a factor, regardless of what it is doing at any given time. The practice was also an illustration of how dedicated the riders are at New Hope, and how dedicated the horses are at being true therapy – and working, when called upon to do so – horses.

Ride on and ride for hope.

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