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.