How to teach your husband to ride

Another blustery morning today, but the sun is out, so it ended up being quite lovely–a perfect day to bring the hubs along for a ride.
When you’re trying to get your significant other (S.O.) interested in horseback riding, it’s best to avoid making them help out with barn chores, so I didn’t complain one bit when Ryan stood watching me as I scooped frozen turdsicles into the wheelbarrow. The plan was to let him ride one of the girls’ older barrel horses; Pepe is a solid babysitter at 22, but he still has plenty of zip when you ask, so he’s perfect for taking care of husbands who think all there is to riding is to sit in a saddle. If he did well on Pepe, I was going to let him take Johnny over a crossrail (Johnny is bombproof over cross rails). Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a helmet for Ryan, but he was content to play around on Pepe while I schooled Johnny over fences. When you give riding instruction to the non-equestrian S.O., keep it brief and don’t nag! I gave Ryan the basics on how to move forward, steer, and stop. I also scattered lots of poles on the ground to give him obstacles to steer over and around. I then left him alone to figure things out while I tacked up Johnny (though I could still keep an eye on him from Johnny’s paddock).
In the interest of time (that’s the other helpful hint: don’t hold your S.O.s hostage at the barn all day; chances are, they don’t enjoy wasting endless hours brushing ponies like you do), I used the two verticals already set up, and I walked off a two to three stride distance. The plan was to focus again on adjustability. For starters, I let him trot in and just stayed out of the way to see how he chose to tackle it. We had a long distance from three strides, but it wasn’t a bad effort. Besides, he doesn’t really put forth any real effort at cross rails. I have to bump the fences up higher than 2′ for him to make a real jump. So, after trotting in and adding 1 and 2 strides and taking out 1 and 2 strides, I bumped the fences up to about 2’6″ and rode it again. Again, I asked him to add a stride and take out a stride. He’s a lot more adjustable now that he’s accepting more contact. I’m very pleased with his SJ progress! Finally, to really test him, I made the second fence into a ramped oxer. Unfortunately, he got a bit rushy and took it in two strides both times, but he at least didn’t launch at the oxer like he used to do, so we’re definitely moving in the right direction. I’ve posted a video below. Please excuse the poor film quality–I’ve got to remind my husband to turn the phone horizontally when shooting video!

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