Chapter Five: The First Lesson

“Mom, what time is it? Is it time to go?” I waited while mom looked at her phone, then at me and then at her computer screen.

“It is exactly two minutes later than when you last asked me what time it was. You know how to read a clock. I need to finish this before we go or else I have to cancel your lesson. Bella, stop, please just go and tidy up your room.”

“OK, Mom, I’m sorry for bothering you. I just don’t want to be late. It’s my first riding lesson, I-” Mom looks at me. “I will let you get back to work.”

As I leave the kitchen I grab an apple and eat it as I climb the stairs to my room. It looks out over the back yard. In the distance I see some of the horses and Ms. Fiona leading one of them. The horse moves towards here and then she spins at it and smacks the horse hard. She makes the horse back up and I catch a little bit of her yelling through the window. All thoughts of cleaning my room are gone as I watch Ms. Fiona. She and the horse disappear behind a tree and are probably in the barn. Now, I am not sure I want my lesson.

“Bella! Time to go. Hurry up!” Mom’s voice carries up the stairs.

“Just a second I am finishing making my bed.” I pull the covers in place and pick up my brand new riding helmet. I will have to ask Ms. Fiona why she hit the horse, there must be a reason why she hit the horse. Yes, there must be a reason.

I take the steps hurriedly and follow mom onto the back porch. I pull on my new riding boots and look at mom as she puts her phone in her purse.

“Mom, why haven’t you spanked me since that one time when I punched T.J. in the face?” My mom crinkled her eyebrows together and looked at me. “Have you punched your brother since that incident?” I shake my head “no”, and she nods.

“That is why, you remember that punching your brother means I will spank you. That right there is cause and effect. An If/Then statement. If you hit your brother then you will be spanked. I didn’t like spanking you. I hated it but I did what I thought would be the quickest and safest method for teaching you not to do something.”

“OK, I understand, thank you, for explaining it to me.” I buckle my seat belt and watch out the window as mom pulls onto the street. After the short drive we pull into the farm driveway and Ms. Fiona stops and waves at us as she unlatches a gate.

Mom parks the car and I hop out. I grab my purple helmet and wait for mom to get out of the car. Mom goes to put on a mask and Ms. Fiona smiles.

“We are outside, no masks needed. How are you all today?” I look at Ms. Fiona’s forearm and she has a large bruise on it.

“We’re good, how is life on the farm?” Mom smiles at Ms. Fiona as she waves us towards the barn.

“Everything is good, I can’t complain. You all head over to the barn. I just need to bring in this horse and then we will get Bella started.”

She takes the long rope from the gate and attaches it to a ring on the harness on the horse’s head. I follow my mom to the barn and we watch as Ms. Fiona walks the horse into one of the cages in the barn.

“Why do you put them in cages at night?” I watch as Ms. Fiona smiles and picks up another harness. She is standing outside a cage with a sign saying Goldie on it.

“Well, we call them stalls and the horses go in them at night for several reasons, the main one is because it makes it easier for humans to feed them and look them over. My stalls are all large enough for the horses to move around comfortably and if you look inside the stalls you will see that each horse can see each other because the top half of each stall is heavy duty welded wire. When I redesigned the barn, I designed it so that my horses would be happier in their stalls. I also have slow feeder haynets so the horses can eat hay through the night.”

I nod my head and watch as Ms. Fiona opens Goldie’s door. “So, whenever we want to work with the horses we use a halter, which is the thing we put on the horse’s head and a lead rope, this long rope attached to the halter. We never lead a horse without a lead rope. Watch as I put on his halter. See how I make sure the halter is facing the way it goes on his face? Get nice and close to the horse. It makes it easier to halter them.”

I nod and mom pulls me back towards the front of the barn as Ms. Fiona and Goldie walk out of the stall.

“Good, your mom remembers what to do. If someone is leading a horse, stand back. Give the person and the horse plenty of room. We are going to put Goldie on the cross ties now. See right behind you, that long red thing, yep hand me the end dangling towards the ground.” I pass her the end that has a clip on it and she snaps it to a square metal piece by Goldie’s mouth.

Ms. Fiona passes me a brush and she waves her hand in a circular motion. I follow what she does and then she is bringing out equipment from a room with a sign on it saying ‘Tack Room’. She moves too fast for me to follow and I step back and stand next to mom.

“I know a lot to remember. You’ll get the hang of it. Today, is all about being introduced to everything. I am putting on his saddle right now, why don’t you put on your helmet and have your mom help you get it fitted. It should fit similar to how a bike helmet fits.”

I put my purple helmet on and smile at my mom. “What happened to your arm?” I point to the large bruise on Ms. Fiona’s arm.

“Oh. Drake, one of my training horses nipped me when I was bringing him in. He got smacked and reprimanded for nipping. It is important to me that all of my horses are safe and easy to be around. I don’t want anyone getting hurt.”

She puts a leather piece on the saddle and cinches it up like a belt around the Goldie’s belly. She pulls a leather harness thing off of a hook and puts it on Goldie.

“This is a bridle and we put the reins over his head before we take off the halter. I will teach you how to do this as well. For now, just watch and learn. Riding is about learning how to watch and prepare. Ok, so you hold the reins like this and walk next to him like this. And let’s bring him out to the big open area, it’s called an arena.

Published by Hidden Meadow Equestrian Center

A small private horseback riding center located in central Connecticut. Our focus is helping you get back to nature.

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