Nine-year-old girl learning lifelong skills

Emerson Lingerfelt began horseback riding lessons last October. She now attends classes weekly in Mentone.

Emerson Lingerfelt, age nine, finds ways to keep busy and improve herself during this time of COVID-19. Before the pandemic she was already taking piano lessons and she continues to learn piano, however since October she has added another class to her schedule. She is taking hunt seat horseback riding lessons.

Once a week, Lingerfelt goes to Long Meadow Farm in Mentone for her lesson.

“Hunt seat is a classic form of English riding that entails a forward seat, a posture that traditionally suited cross-country game hunting. The rider must have excellent balance and strong legs to execute the horse's gaits,” said riding instructor, Rebecca Henderson. “Emerson is learning not only basic horsemanship and communication with her mount, but also the posting trot, in which the rider rises from their seat in unison with the horse's movement.”

Lingergelt is currently riding the farm’s 13 year old Daisy, who is 13 hands-high. Lingerfelt will advance to a taller horse as her skills improve.

“After Emerson rides Daisy she spends time learning to groom her properly and Ms. Rebecca teaches her how to take the tack off,” said Emerson’s mother, Amiee. “I enjoy watching her ride. I can see Emerson’s skills and confidence improving week by week.”

Learning various skills is essential for young people to develop confidence and feel secure in who they are. When children are confident about who they are and their abilities they are more likely to have a “growth mindset,” according to Dr. David S. Yeager, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Growth mindset is when someone believes their talents can be developed through hard work in contrast to an inborn natural gift.

One study, sponsored by the American Youth Horse Council, found that equestrian activities do indeed enhance a range of life skills in children. The study looked at youngsters involved in 4-H, Pony Club, the American Quarter Horse Youth Association, or the National High School Rodeo Association in one eastern and one western state. Results of the study, published in February 2006, found a significant positive relationship between horsemanship skills and life skills.

In addition to piano and horse-riding lessons Lingerfelt loves to ride Four-Wheelers, draw and paint, play with her dog Asher, and bake cookies every chance she gets.

“My family has horses and I love going riding with my family,” said Lingerfelt.

Emerson’s Motto: (Emerson feels like Winston Churchhill,) -“No hour is wasted that is spent in the saddle.”

Long Meadow Farms can be found on Facebook.

— Marla Ballard’s Who's Who appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday and weekend editions.

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