Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Horseback Riding to Music: The 2014 PALS Fun Show

One of the few things that I was legitimately sad about, when I began homeschooling, was the fact that the children would miss out on performances, and I'd miss out on attending them. As a child, I remember music pageants, Christmas performances, school plays, etc. How sad that the kids would miss out on these precious opportunities to perform for an audience!


Yeah, the kids participate in PLENTY of shows, homeschooling or not, and Matt and I get absolutely our fair share of butt time on back-less bleachers and in dark auditoriums, watching them shine. They dance ballet, they fly on the silks, they walk the runway, they skate to music, and they ride around the arena.

This year's horseback riding show, the PALS Fun Show, was even more special and exciting for the kids than last year, as their riding instructor has just really outdone herself in making sure that the kids have an interesting and enriching curriculum. You already know how much I love the homework that she gives them (a weekly assignment to research and report on a horse breed; I also ask the kids to research and report on that breed's country of origin). This year, she also thought that the kids might enjoy performing as a mounted drill team in the Fun Show, so she choreographed a routine for them, practiced it with them for ages, and sent me home with the patterns so that the kids could practice it at home (they taped it out in our big family room and ran through it until perfect every single day).

The kids got to choose the music for their performance, and after much listening to many songs, and my realization that my kids don't really ask for or take a lot of interest in non-narrative songs (their only real favorite album is The King, the Mice, and the Cheese by Stevesongs, and that's really more of a musical), they finally settled on Blondie's "The Tide is High" and the Indigo Girls' "Get out the Map." For a while, Will was pushing for "The House of the Rising Sun," and for some reason the thought of them performing to it was super cracking me up, but I'm pleased that they eventually followed the path of the girl bands.

I really like arriving early, so that we can watch other riders perform:

I just like watching the other riders, but the kids do seem to always glean some new information or source of inspiration. For instance, the kids always ride with their horses on a long lead held by a volunteer, and another volunteer walking next to them (one of my favorite things about PALS is that it's EXTREMELY aggressive about rider safety), but as they watched other riders navigating the trail course in the arena, they noticed a kid, about Will's age, who was permitted to ride completely without walkers! GASP! They were enormously impressed, and have declared their new goal in riding to be showing their instructor that they can control their horses well enough to be permitted to ride without walkers.

Of course, I like the walkers! One lesson last term, the kids were practicing leading their horses, and Syd, walking while holding the lead right next to her horse's muzzle, tried to halt her horse but didn't brace herself so that when he didn't obey, she was pulled right off her feet. Before she could fall directly in front of her horse's front legs, however, her sidewalker snatched her up and set her back on her feet, and the lesson continued without a pause.

You'll notice the walkers in this video of their performance--one holding a loose lead in case she needs to take control of the horse, and one walking/jogging next to each child in case she needs to take control of the child. You will not, however, notice the music; although I'd been looking forward to getting a little teary while watching the kids perform to a couple of my favorite songs, I'd been very slightly bummed that this meant that I wouldn't be able to put their performance on YouTube to share with family and friends--can't play a video featuring songs that I don't have the rights to! And so although the kids were bummed that the stereo futzed during their performance and didn't play their second song (of course the kids carried right on, though, the troopers), I was actually pretty pleased--all I had to do was a little trimming, and I have a nice clip of the drill team performance, without that pesky music:

And after the performance, of course, are the judges' comments (Will has excellent posture!) and the prizes--

--and the fun times! Fun times include getting one's face painted, doing arts and crafts and coloring pages--

--hanging out with the other riders, and apparently eating one's weight in cookies, from what I witnessed with my own children, at least.

It was, indeed, a performance to make a Momma proud, and the perfect show for the kids to take part in--they worked hard, they were pleased with the results, and they've geared themselves up to work towards even bigger accomplishments.

And they have trophies! I wish that *I* still did stuff that won me trophies...

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