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The Art of Perfecting Fancy: From Pony Bows to Sunday Whites

Charleigh Grace, Leadline 2013

A few weeks ago Charleigh was having a lesson and she said her goal is to be a super fancy rider. Jill Prieto and I looked at each other… Hmmm… What does “fancy” mean to a 6 year old? One of the many things I love about my daughter is her passion for the sport and her dedication to hours in the saddle and helping at our barn. Charleigh’s description of being a “fancy” rider is: 1) to be able to walk, trot, canter and gallop, 2) to be able to get your horse to go without using your crop, 3) to keep your heels down at all times, 4) to be able to get your horse ready without someone helping you and to get them “undressed” after you ride, and 5) to always tell your horse or pony “Thank you.”

I love the simplicity in her words. In Charleigh’s world sometimes the biggest challenge is deciding which pony bows to wear and, of course, those tricky diagonals at the trot! I admire her ability to navigate a busy warm-up ring amongst young and very large horses. She is learning so much at such a young age… And all of these experiences are getting her one step closer to fancy.

Photo Credit: Alden Corrigan; Jill Prieto & Carlton Cafe, owned by Freestyling Farms

Jill Prieto, one of our amazing trainers at Freestyling Farms, never did lead line because she started riding later. Charleigh knows this and also realizes that she did her first lead line at 2 ½ years old which is pretty young… Perhaps this is where her concept of fancy started. I will say that, as a competitor myself, I will be grateful for the day when she graduates from garters and jodhpurs to tall boots and hair nets. Dealing with those tiny buckles in the heat of summer can drive me nuts!!!

Charleigh’s estimating that she will be trading in her pony bows for Sunday Whites in about 4 years. I’m not sure mom will be ready for that but, for now, we are enjoying the ride and time in the saddle together. Sometimes our goals aren’t ribbons, sometimes they are moving forward, keeping your pony on the rail or being on the correct diagonal… Charleigh knows that all of this will help her work on becoming a “fancy” rider and knowing that she understands hard work and commitment… Well, let’s just say that this mom is VERY proud of her daughter!

One last thought for my kiddo… For the LOVE of GOD… SHORTEN YOUR REINS!!!!!!!!

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