I’ve had a lifelong love story with horses. The first story I’ve been told involving me and horses, goes back 34 years, before my first actual memory. I haven’t always had a horse of my own, but horses have always been an essential part of my life.
As an adult I’ve been blessed to have several horses as my teachers, each one of them own a very special part of my heart. When my daughter arrived almost four years ago, I secretly hoped that she would inherit my passion, but decided to never push her in that direction.
She’s been around horses her whole life, but I’ve never pushed her to ride, or do anything with them. For me being with horses is so much more than just riding them, it’s a spiritual experience. I knew that if she was going to experience that, I could never push her. She had to discover the connection herself.
I rode my favorite horse Trigger (a rescue horse,) until I was 7 months pregnant with her. Trigger, and my daughter shared a special bond from the beginning. I always watch my daughter closely when she’s around horses, and I certainly don’t take any unnecessary risks, but when Trigger was around, I knew that he watched her even more closely than I did. No other horse was allowed to come near her. When I was fixing fences, or working with something on their pasture, my daughter walked around in her own world, with Trigger following her around as a big puppy. (He was a mustang/quarter cross, around 15 hh.)
When your horse follows you without being asked, when he rubs his head on yours,
and when you look at him and feel a tingle down your spine…you know you are loved.
~ John Lyons
When she was a little more than one year old, I caught her using his tail as a swing several times. When I groomed him she played peek-a-boo under his belly, and between his legs. She also took him into the house a few times, by herself, before she turned two years old. He’d lower his head down to her level, so that she could put a rope, or a halter on him, then he happily walked with her. It took a lot of convincing from my side to make her agree to not try this with other horses.
Just like her mom, my daughter is very fascinated by just looking at horses, and hanging out with them. She often asks me if we can go look at the wild ones (mustangs) in Nevada. Something we both really enjoy doing. She notices things, and have more feel when around horses, than many adults I’ve met. She genuinely loves them, everything about them.
Early on I decided that just because we most likely were going to live on places were it was possible for her to have a horse of her own, I was not going to give her one, until I was fairly sure of her dedication. I am not one of those moms that serves things on a silver platter. My three year old have been making her own bed, and cleaning her own room for a long time. She has chores that she manage every day, according to what a competent child can be expected to do. Time with her have always been my number one priority. She is not spoiled with things, but with time. If she is going to have her own horse, I want her to be a part of every aspect of having a horse. Of course I would help her, and be there with her, especially in the beginning.
I recently started to look around for a project horse for myself. I really want to get into endurance riding again. On one of the ranches my daughter and I visited recently, I found a horse that I really liked. I decided to get her for myself. A couple days after this visit, my daughter and I made a road trip. Shadow, the horse that I liked, was on my mind all the time. Out of the blue, while driving through Lassen National Forest (CA,) my 3 year old daughter says; Mom, I know that you like Shadow very much, but I LOVE Ariel. Ariel was Shadow’s pasture buddy. She was a sweetheart, and I do understand why my daughter liked her. She was much calmer, and and had a more mature aura of confidence around her. She also stood still while enjoying pets from my daughter. I liked her too, but she might not be the endurance horse I was dreaming of forming a bond with. She did have all the potential in the world to be a perfect kids horse. At least I thought so, after our first meeting.
All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl.
~ Author Unknown
I went back to the ranch, to learn more about her. Even though she isn’t trained, there is a lot you can tell about a horse’s personality, levelheadedness, and how they prefer to live life. Shadow for instance is very affectionate, loves people, but are a little afraid at the same time, there’s not 100% trust there. She also LOVES to run. She will always need space to run. She would not be happy in a stall, maybe potentially dangerous. Ariel on the other hand, enjoys the company of people very much, but doesn’t need them. She is confident in herself, and would be stabile in most situations thrown upon her. No matter what happens, a horse like that will most probably get a good life, with few owners. They are just easy, loving, and adapts to the situation. That is exactly what you want in a kids horse.
When we went back to see if Ariel was all that, and that it wasn’t all in my head. I’d let my daughter do whatever she wanted to do. She has a lot of energy, and I usually remind her that when we’re around horses we have to be a little mindful, and respect their living space. (Not run around like crazy too much.) We entered the horses pasture, and my daughter was at this point very excited, but walked calmly by my side. (Probably mostly because she was wearing her new pink shoes, and did not want to get them dirty..) Both horses came up to us. They approached us slowly this time. I didn’t really have an agenda, more than to observe Ariel.
After a while, I decided to see if Ariel would follow us into the smaller pen, without a halter on, while leaving her friend with the other horses on the bigger pasture. She did, willingly. When I closed the gate behind us, Shadow throw a fit on the other side. Even though she had tons of green grass, and other horses on her side. Ariel wasn’t bothered at all. I put a halter on her, and did a couple leading exercises. Nothing complicated, but she was very willing, and focused on me, not the drama on the other side. She was relaxed, and seemed to enjoy the attention. At this point my daughter was not very calm anymore. She was jumping around singing I am so excited! I’m going to get a horse!!! It did look like she was going to be right.
After making sure that ariel was OK with being touched all over her body, I let my daughter brush her. Ariel is on the shorter side, and she could reach most of her body. Ariel stood still, only bothered by the flies around her eyes. She wasn’t particularly enjoying when I cleaned them, and put fly spray around her eyes, but she accepted it. In my head I’d already accepted that the right thing was to let my daughter experience this horse. This was going to be our horse. I’ve visited her seven more times after that first visit, to get to know her a little better, and make the transition easier for her. She’s coming home this Sunday 🙂 I don’t know who’s most excited, my daughter, or I!
Enjoy this beautiful day!
Love & Light, Always