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.