Junior Jockey - Shortening the Stirrup Leathers
A Unique Way to Save Money on Riding Lessons
Kids can be bitten by the riding bug as soon as they take their first lesson. For many youngsters just a few minutes in the saddle is enough to turn riding into a passion. Then they simply can’t get enough of their new hobby and all the accessories that come with it. The problem is that someone has to pay for all those lessons and many parents struggle to cover the costs.
I started riding when I was just six years old. I absolutely loved it but my parents made it perfectly clear that I would be restricted to just one lesson each week. As I became more skilled I started show jumping but I knew that I needed more time to practice.
Cash for Riding
I did everything I could to finance more riding lessons. I asked for lessons for my birthday, I helped out at the stables to get free lessons, I did odd jobs for cash and I begged friends to let me ride their horses. I still barely managed to ride as often as I needed to. At one stage I contemplated the idea of becoming a jockey but I certainly had no opportunity to learn to ride race horses.
A Future Jockey
13 year old Olivia Tubb has recently been struggling with the same issues that I had. The enthusiastic Pony Club member has been dreaming of becoming a professional jockey. Her parents have already spent thousands of pounds to cover the cost of travel and riding lessons at the nearest training yard. This is two hours away from their home. Recently they realised that they needed to cut back on their expenditure which meant that Olivia was facing the prospect of less time in the saddle.
The Trojan Horse
Olivia’s father was determined to ensure that she would still be able to hone her skills and came up with an innovative idea. He decided to build a wooden horse for the budding jockey! The timber stallion was named Troy after the ancient city and the Derby winning race horse.
Paul Tubb was not an expert in DIY and his first two efforts ended up in the bin. It took him a month to make the horse which was complete with reins, stirrups, stirrup leathers and a system which recreates a horse’s movement. Quite a project for a DIY novice. Troy cost around £30 to construct.
Shortening the Stirrup Leathers
Olivia set about practising using Troy and her efforts were to pay off. She recently entered a Pony Club racing event at Cheltenham and won! She told reporters that Troy had helped her to practice her riding position and to build up strength in her legs.
Gosh! I wish I had thought of this when I was younger. My Dad was actually quite proficient at DIY. I am sure that he could have managed to make a moving horse! At least I could have improved my balance. I did have a rocking horse when I was very little. It had red reins and stirrup leathers. This dapple horse might have inspired my interest in riding but it wasn't much good to the teenage me trying to learn show jumping!
By Nevit Dilmen (Own work) [ or ],