Saturday, December 29, 2007

Kids and Horses

My daughter got a Fender precision bass electric guitar for Christmas. It has nothing to do with horses. Right now, she has nothing to do with horses, even though there are two of them living in her backyard. It makes me sad but I believe that this is only a temporary loss of interest. Many little girls dream endlessly of owning a horse. I know I did. Sometimes, I wonder if having a horse of her own so easily made it not so special. In the end, I’ve decided to ignore the situation. I love our horses, and I continue to be overly involved with them. It’s kind of like eating broccoli. I don’t push vegetables down my daughter’s throat. I just eat them and hope that she’ll observe and someday decide for herself that they are delicious.

I know that many people who are afraid of horses had bad experiences with them as children. It astonishes me that parents don’t take more care about choosing an instructor and a safe place for their kids to ride. When I boarded my horses, I would see mothers pull up, drop off their little ones and drive away to run errands while the children had their lessons. Then, if something went wrong. and the child got frightened, there was no one who really knew the kid who could comfort her. On several occasions, I found myself hugging a crying little girl until her mom or her nanny showed up a half hour later.

My daughter started riding when she was three years old. She has always worn a helmet. One of her earliest memories is of a friend of ours falling off a horse. The lady, who was a grandmother, was sitting on her horse, wearing a baseball cap, waiting for a group of friends to go for a trail ride. My daughter was playing with kittens nearby in the barn. Suddenly, one of the horses in the group bit our friend’s horse on the butt. The injured horse blew up like a firecracker and our friend landed on her head on the asphalt driveway. She had a concussion, and it made a lasting impression on my child.

I always have looked for the “baby-sitters” for my daughter to ride. First there was Jinny Jigs, a twenty- year old mare who had about 15 off-spring. She was a four-legged angel. Then, there was Buster, who was more of a puppy dog than a horse. My daughter would ride him bareback while I led them around the ranch. It really gave her a wonderful sense of balance and makes her a great rider today. Her favorite was Dusty, a 28 year old Paint stallion. When he died, my daughter cried so hard. She stopped at one point and said, “Mommy, I think my heart is breaking.”

Now, she has Siete, her own five -year old Quarter Horse. I know that young horses and beginning riders are not a good combination. I’ve waited a long time and paid for a lot of training to be sure that our little horse is safe and mellow. I think we’re finally ready. Unfortunately, there’s a bass guitar that has captured her attention. So, I will ride Siete and not push. I have no doubt there will be a day when she comes down to the barn while I’m on her horse and asks me if she can go for a ride.


Trail Riding Cowgirl said...

I feel your pain, my two boys have no interest in the horses either. They are still quite young and I hoped to inflict them with the bug at an early age. My oldest (4) was just coming around to liking them and Harley bit him in the back totally unprovoked. This of course shattered any hope for a love of horses. He now says Harley is mean and refuses to acknowledge his presence. Hence the reason I bought Wilson and that backfired so I too am just leaving it be for now.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Someone once said that raising teenagers is like trying to nail jello to the wall. When my son was about 12 I got him to take lessons, he even mucked a few stalls, he fell off only once, left the barn and never looked back, it wasn't his thing. But now he is an accomplished musician on guitars and drums,and has played in numerous bands and clubs. This was what was right for him.
My oldest daughter seemed to lose interest in horses,lessons and showing about the time she got her driver's license, she is an occasional and seasonal rider now. By seasonal I mean that all conditions must be perfect in order for her to ride. You will never catch her breaking ice in a water bucket. Although she has found she loves skiing, go figure. She gave me her horse Blue when I lost my guy in April.
On the other hand my middle girl, has ridden since she was 5, and has missed very few days either riding, teaching or training horses. She lives on the farm and takes care of all the horses everyday. She would never even consider a life without horses. So it just goes to show you that everyone is different,even though they have all been exposed to the horse world for the last 25 years or so.
I believe that you are doing the right thing by not pushing your daughter, if she wants to be involved someday, she will. If you did insist she would probably rebel, because thats just the way kids are. Patience will probably pay off in the long run.

jodi said...

Given that I was besotted with horses from the time I was about four years old, and pleaded for one all the years I lived at home (and never got one of my own, though younger sisters eventually did)'s always hard for me to accept that anyone else wouldn't stay besotted with horses forever. But my son, who did take some riding lessons when he was about 10-12, moved on to other interests too. However, Virginia, don't despair; sometimes they take a break from one interest but come back to it. I went horse-free for a number of years; there was no chance to ride or to even think about having a horse, so I avoided even watching shows. Then the time came when things all came together. Your daughter may be entranced with the guitar, but that doesn't mean she won't feel the call of Siete, too.

Strawberry Lane said...

How distressing for you. However, I learned from my own children that with teenagers ... interests seem to be fleeting and temporary.

Then with age something magic happens, they return to the things they loved in their childhood.

Good luck! She is a lucky girl.

Transylvanian horseman said...

It's better to let youngsters' interest develop naturally. Back in Southern England, I saw too many children being made to ride "for social reasons". Most disliked it, and stopped as soon as they could.

There were also plenty of children left all day at the stables as if the owner was a childminder. Some thrived and learnt, others didn't. Now that is illegal in Britain. It is against the law for a child under 16 to do any "work" (even filling water buckets or hay nets) at a riding stable except for a horse that their family owns. I hope that your government doesn't do this kind of thing to you in the US.

In the trail riding business, I also see fathers dragged along riding by horse-mad mothers and daughters. Unlike teenagers, these poor men really aren't allowed to drop out! Some of them get so sore.

Many people introduced to riding as children do return as adults. Quite a number of my clients learnt as children then restarted after a decade or two away from horses. So there is hope for lapsed teenage riders.

Puddle Jumper said...

I have the same bass guitar as your daughter and I understand that, as I am 19 now, these are things to explore. My moms a real estate agent and I said that I would never have her job, but now I'm studying interior design. Its related but not the same. I know its heart breaking, but when she finds out what she really wants to do, you will be so proud of her. Maybe it wasn't in your dreams for her to be up on a stage playing under hot lights, but you might just catch yourself smiling. If that doesn't work, theres plently worse to be interested in.

Bina said...

I've loved horses all of my life and have never been afraid of the, but in awe of them. I finally bought my own horse in 2001. 17 hands, TN Walker, Gelding. I only paid $900 for him and he was all skin and bones and dirty and yucky. I brought him home, bathed him many times that summer, fed him really well, he had a BIG pasture (about 4 acres to himself) and I rode him and loved him. By the end of the summer he was just this beautiful horse and like your daughters favorite, he was a big ole puppy dog. I eventually go divorced and has to move the city. I looked long and hard for the right people. A little girl, 12, came and rode him and fell in love. I sold him for what I paid, and gave them all the accessories as well. I cried so hard when they left, and to this day, I miss him dearly.

Victoria Cummings said...

Bina - I'm sure that horse loved you as much as you loved him. Lucky for him, you were able to find that 12 year old girl. And hopefully, you'll find yourself in a place someday where another horse will be waiting for you. I grew up with horses and then spent many, many years without them in my life. When I bought Silk, it's like I found a piece of myself that had been missing.