Bryanna Braddock came to Horse Protection Association of Florida to volunteer in 2012 at the age of 13.
She was and still is a quiet young lady, extremely polite and mature for her age. She is home schooled and began coming to the farm to volunteer one morning a week. She had her own horses at home but did not have any formal education with horses. Bryanna learned to halter and lead the horses with the Parelli techniques used at HPAF. She quickly caught on to new things as they were introduced to her and if she did not get it right the first time she would always persevere until she mastered it. Always willing to take on daily chores when asked, Bryanna spoiled the staff; she is such a great volunteer that she set the standard for volunteers! She works consistently throughout her mornings at the farm, always friendly, pleasant and in a good mood!
To thank Bryanna for her hard work and dedication I began giving her riding lessons on Elmoe, a large pony gelding who had been returned from an adopter due to personal circumstances. Elmoe behaved well in the round pen and was a good mount for Bryanna to learn a proper seat, foot and leg position after years of casual riding. It was hard work for her but she persisted. If anyone has ever had to relearn how to ride correctly after having ridden another way for many years, you know how hard it can be. Bryanna practiced two-point or half seat to train her muscles so that she had a good foundation of her foot and leg positioning. She was lunged on Elmoe with no reins and worked week after week to learn and master all these new exercises which were not easy tasks. She would not get reins until her seat was secure and her hands were independent. Those pesky bad habits from riding are hard to break when you have been riding for years without any thought to your position.
Over two years Bryanna continued to improve. She earned the privilege of reins and started riding Elmoe in a side pull. Things did not go well at first; Bryanna was not the one planning their route during their lessons! But she persevered and got better and better.
Finally it was time for her to ride outside the round pen and small ring. She rode out with our trainer on another horse. Luckily Elmoe is not malicious, but sneaky for sure and well aware of his riders’ confidence or lack thereof! He took her for a ride but only ran off with her at a trot and did not stray too far from the other horse. In time Bryanna became the leader when riding Elmoe and progressed to walking and trotting in the open areas, quite an accomplishment in deed.
Elmoe was adopted and Bryanna moved on to riding other horses in the round pen. She got to where I could put her up on a horse in training in order to reintroduce a rider to an ex race horse or horse who was going thorough retraining and ready for a light weight rider. Most recently she has been riding Buzzy an ex-race horse who has lots of fear issues and needs to trust his rider to stay calm and relaxed.
Over the years Bryanna progressed from an insecure rider with no seat and totally uneducated hands to become a more confident rider with a lovely seat and kind, thoughtful hands. Bryanna continues to build on her Parelli skills and is now taking lessons with a Parelli instructor, a Christmas gift from her parents.
A rescue organization could not ask for a better volunteer than Bryanna. All of our volunteers at Horse Protection Association of Florida are wonderful and greatly appreciated, but Bryanna sets the bar very high indeed.