Confessions of a Pony Kid: Learning to Ride New Horses

Out of the mouths of babes comes great wisdom: Horse Nation’s resident pony kid details her recent experience stepping up to a new mount from her beloved first pony.

No matter your status (junior, adult amateur, or professional) riding horses is hard work. We often hear the perspectives of our peers, but have you ever stepped back to think about what we do from the eyes of a young child? Get your dose of adorable insight with this column featuring Ainsleigh, a young rider who dreams of jumps larger than a crossrail as she tackles her first show, a few falls, and much more. Our resident Pony Pal Ainsleigh talks to us this month about the importance of being comfortable on many different horses, even when they aren’t as easy as horses we may have been used too. Wise beyond her years, Ainsleigh offers us insight on what each individual horse can teach us and how that can make us better riders. 

Hi, it’s Ainsleigh and I’m still ten. I want to talk to you about switching horses. You could have to switch horses for many reasons. One reason is if you outgrew your horse and another is if you got too advanced for that horse. There are many other reasons you might have to switch horses, but these are some of the most common.

Switching horses can be kind of difficult because you don’t know what to expect and you kind of just have to hope for the best. You have to learn what the trick is to get your horse to either go or slow down. You also might have to learn what the trick is to steer a new horse. When you start a new horse, you might not be used to that horse’s stride or the speed that they like to go. Depending on what horse you switch to it could take weeks, or even months to learn a new horse.

Puff was the first pony I started riding on at Fox Run Stables. Photo by Meghan Glenn

Once I had to switch from the sweetest pony in the barn to a newer horse that was way more difficult because I was beginning to outgrow my current horse, Puff. He was getting too old and my trainer said I was getting too advanced for him.

When I first found out that I had to switch I was super nervous. I did not want to leave Puff. When I switched I was not accustomed to how fast the new pony Charlie was and it took me a while to adapt to that. One other thing that I had to learn was how hard it was to steer Charlie. I was so used to Puff basically just turning whenever I asked, but with Charlie it was much harder to steer. After about a month, it started to get easier and easier to ride Charlie. It went really well for a while and then Charlie started to develop some bad habits. She would get nervous and start to gallop. I had to go back to Puff for a little while, so my trainer could work with her, but now I am back on Charlie and she is being a really good girl!

Learning to ride Charlie has been really good for me! Don’t worry, I only hopped on her to take this photo and my mom and trainer were right there. I always ride with a helmet on because safety is very important! Photo by Meghan Glenn

Sometimes switching horses is scary, but every horse that I have switched to taught me something about riding. Puff taught me to keep my horse going and Charlie taught me how to stay on when your horse gets nervous and spooks. If you go into switching horses with a positive attitude, good things can come out of it.

Go riding!

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