Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Horsing Around

January 9

Like I mentioned I grew up in the woods. We had chickens, a big vegetable garden, lots of trees to climb and . . . yes, a horse. She lived in the back near the chickens and it was my job to take care of her. I have to say I learned a lot from Princess (yes, Princess) about responsibility, consistency  facing challenges, and above all about love, just pure love. Love for her, love for galloping, love for being in the woods. I had one of those now unheard of childhoods where I was told, "be home by dark." And that was it. No directions,  no organized activities, no supervision, just go outside. And so I did and lucky lucky lucky for me I had a horse to go with me. I was never in a horse show and I only occasionally used a saddle. This was not a fancy set up.

So fast forward to me now, the mother of two girls. When my first daughter hit the usual horse crazy stage, let's just say I enabled her. I encouraged her, and I was over the moon to get a chance to spend time with horses again. But we do not live in the woods, we cannot have a horse in the back, and there is no way I am going to say "Go outside now and don't come home until dark." So what's today's version? How can I possibly give my kids the experience of barns and curry combs and the feeling of a huge gentle animal carrying you along? The best I've been able to come up with is riding lessons. But not the fancy high pressure kind. Not the goal oriented kind. No we found the mellow ranch, slightly run down but full of animals who are less than perfect to look at but who are wonderfully gentle, calm and yes, loving.

While my first grader learns which brush to use on the forelock, my little one and I distribute our mother load of carrots. We become very popular very fast. The goats are funny. They want the carrots but don't quite know how to attack them. I learn that they want bite size chunks. While the official lesson has now moved to the riding portion, what I think of as the unofficial lesson is going strong, "Don't run up behind a horse," states my little one matter of factly after I have just explained why this is important. We walk the dusty path from the barn to the riding ring. She stops to look at the rocks, the fence, the water trough. "Why do horses live in stalls," she asks. This is what I wanted, a little real life horse experience. Why do horses live in stalls I think. "Because they are too big to live in a house," I reply. I get a smile. This is going to be fun.

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