First Riding Lesson - Pt. 1

First Riding Lesson, Part I

Aeia walks into the center of the ring, meeting the Apprentices gathered there with their runners. "Welcome to class," she says quietly to one, who smiles embarrassedly and looks away from his Craftmaster.

"This is the first riding lesson for all of you," she says in a louder voice, "so please, pay attention. If your girth is tight, you can get on." She walks over to one runner, crossing to his left side. "Put the reins over the runner's head so they're where you want them to be when you get on. Then, standing on the left - as always - put your left foot in the stirrup." She smiles. "Not your right, unless you want to end up backwards. Put your hands on the front and back of the saddle, and heave yourself up there. Go ahead."

She waits for a while as the apprentices clamber into their saddles. "Okay, you're all in there, congratulations. Getting on is the first step. Now, straighten your reins so they aren't twisted, and hold them with the first three fingers of each hand. The rein should go from the runner's mouth…. that's right… and pass into your fist between the ring finger and the smallest finger. Close your fingers around the rein, with your thumbs on top. Right. Keep your thumbs on top; don't tip your hands inwards. Pretend you're holding two cups of klah, and you don't want to spill them on the runner."

She walks around the Apprentices, making sure everyone has it right. "Now, today we're only going to talk about the very basics of riding. Almost everyone knows the essential idea behind GO, STOP, LEFT, and RIGHT. Let's talk about how it's really done, though. To get your runner to move forward, don't kick him. Squeeze with your legs and heel. If he's not listening, squeeze harder. But try to avoid kicking. Everyone start your runners walking now.

"I can see we're having some trouble steering… don't pull so much on the reins. Don't let the reins go slack, but keep the pressure light… When you want to turn, just increase the pressure on that side, and look where you want to go. Runners can read a lot from your body language; they can tell where your attention is. Focus it on where you want to go, and that's half of telling them.

"Now, when you want to stop, just close both hands a little, giving a bit of pressure on both sides. Sit up straight, and the runner should stop. There you go, that's right!

"Congratulations, you guys. You've got the basics down; you can ride. I want everyone to go out to the sides of the ring now, and circle left, and we'll begin the real stuff." Aeia smiles.

This lesson will be continued in Part Two .

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