Saturday, October 5, 2013

Crazy Acres - a dream come true!

Lana has been captivated by horse books for months now, reading all of them she can get her hands on.  When soccer didn't work out for us this season, we took the opportunity to let her try horseback riding. After getting recommendations and making calls for several weeks, we scheduled a lesson with Mrs. Rhonda at Crazy Acres Ranch.

We could not have had a better experience!

The first thing we did was take the tour and meet all ten (!!!) of the horses.

This is Champ, the horse Lana was to ride.
Before he came to Crazy Acres, Champ pulled a wagon, so he is slow and steady and very calm.

Meet Mrs. Rhonda.
She is the owner of Crazy Acres.
Mrs. Rhonda works a full time job as an RN during the week,
and then spends her weekends giving horseback riding lessons.
She is quite possibly the most patient soul I have ever met.

She took her time talking Lana through each thing they were doing.
 and Lana hung on her every word.

 When choosing a place for Lana to take lessons, it was very important to us that she not go to a "boutique" ranch where she just shows up and hops on for a ride.  We want her to learn to do the hard work of caring for a horse she's riding.
It was so sweet to watch her - she took this part so seriously.

This is a perfect example of what a wonderful instructor Mrs. Rhonda is - you can see her show Lana the proper technique, assist her in doing in, and then let her do it alone, although she stayed just right there in case Lana needed help.

 Most of the time, we tried to stay out of the way.  Lana gets distracted when we are nearby.  However, I happened to be standing nearby during this moment, as Mrs. Rhonda was talking to Lana about saddling and putting in the bit and bridle, and other things.  I was thinking to myself That is a lot to remember!  I wouldn't be able to retain it all, even as an adult, when I heard Mrs. Rhonda say, "Now you're not going to remember all this today.  I'll tell you every time you come, and you'll get it."  Such a wonderful teacher!

 After almost an hour of work, the long awaited moment arrived - 
saddled up!

Oh, this picture just about brings me to tears.
She is such a sweet, sweet child.

So excited!

The first stop was the little corral, where Mrs. Rhonda taught her the basics of getting Champ to go and stop.  Those horses love Mrs. Rhonda so much - she would walk past the stalls, and they even responded to the sound of her voice.

Then she spent a little time walking and trotting on her own, without Mrs. Rhonda leading Champ.

They spent the rest of the lesson riding Champ around the property - around the beautiful pond, through some basic obstacles - and practicing her techniques.

When they were almost done, Mrs. Rhonda let Tucker hop on for a minute.
His facial expressions are the BEST, and they say it all!

Once she was off the horse, there was more work to be done!
 You can see Champ in the background, and you'll notice how sweaty his back is.  Lana wasn't prepared for that, and it really bothered her when she took his saddle off.

She worked so hard on cleaning out his shoes after her ride:

Finally he got a good cool down and they let him take a break.
I don't have all the words to tell you how wonderful Mrs. Rhonda was with Lana.  So patient and encouraging and relaxed - the perfect fit for our girl.  

It was a wonderful, two hours FULL of work and learning for her!
Dan and I kept sneaking peeks at her and taking pictures, keeping Tucker busy, 
and enjoying the beautiful day on the farm!

meeting the horses

playing in the sand pile

having a little snack in the shade while watching sis

taking a walk to the pond

look at this view from my shady spot!  love.

Dan & Tucker spent a while at the pond throwing rocks and feeding cheerios to the fish.

We had a wonderful experience today, and already scheduled her next lesson 2 weeks from now.

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