Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Girl and Her Horse

There is no joy comparable to the kind of joy you feel when a horse gifts you with his kind of freedom. The moment when he lets you into his world and for the briefest of glimpses, there is no distinction between horse and rider. They're one. A big powerful machine wreaking havoc on the landscape. I knew this kind of abandon from my youth and I felt it was time to teach this to my girls.

Banshee was up first. Because of her age and her condition, she would ride (for now) in a therapeutic sense. She rides a pony trained to be more patient and kind with little ones and with the guidance of an occupational therapist, the pony helps to teach life skills.

I was so excited for her. I wanted Banshee to not feel so awkward on her body. She might be built like a Viking but she's still 3! With a little hesitation, Banshee met Bob the pony. She said hello and he asked for a little pet before she got on. It was like magic. Banshee, who rode bareback, made an instant friend. They were an extension of the other for the hour they were together. She learned the lingo, did her stretches and exercises on the horse. Banshee and Bob got a treat, when they were allowed to trot fast in the arena. The smile on that child's face and the way she reacted to Bob the pony were priceless. In fact, Bob began listening and following Banshee's commands. The OT mentioned that Bob liked Banshee and that's why he was doing that. I guess Bob figured out that Banshee needed him and would be a good friend. I was a proud Mama, even more so when Cubby started to cry and stopped when the closest mare came over on her own to soothe him. He quieted right down.

A great first ride!

There's an old saying that animals and children know who they can trust. I was humbled by how these wonderful animals knew what my spawn needed. Nature knows what she's doing.

Next up on the saddle, Pixy. She went to ride closer to home at our local horse center. With a little anxiety, she put on her riding helmet and her paddock boots. She took a deep breath and walked to the arena. There she found her horse, who thankfully looked like Secretariat, whom she's loved since she was a baby. She politely said hello to her horse and tentatively, stroked his nose. Pixy looked so small next to her mount, that for a moment I thought to myself: maybe this is too early. I chased that thought away as soon as I remembered my childhood and my family's love for all animals, especially horses.

Turns out, Pixy just needed a minute to get to know her horse and they were both fine. She moved on her saddle and held the reins as if she was born with them in her hands. A few times around the ring and you could hear her happiness. The grin she had on her face was truly priceless. Pixy loved her horse and she kept hugging him, talking to him, and learning what he needed from her. It was magic. They both did wonderfully and the confidence that Pixy had been lacking these past couple of weeks came back in  no time. Her instructor praised her spirit and obvious interest in the horse: "you took good care of him while he was with you. That's what makes a good rider. You have to care about your animal."

Happy rider!
It's a legacy that I'm sure my great-grandparents would be proud I've passed on. Treat all living things with respect, take care of your partner animal or non, and be happy. Yeah, I think both girls have this down. We cannot wait to continue down this new road with our chins up and moccasins pointing forward.

All this horse love at our camp made me think of this poem I'd read a while ago. Truer words have not been spoken:
My horse's feet are as swift as rolling thunder
He carries me away from all my fears
And when the world threatens to fall asunder
His mane is there to wipe away my tears.
~Bonnie Lewis

Have you introduced your children to an activity that you were fond of as a child? How did it turn out? Let us know by leaving a comment below!