I Wanna Be a Cowboy Baby!
This Grandma, Grandma Helen, has always been the horse Grandma. She was the one who valiantly payed for all those years of 4-H when I was a kid. I have ridden about 8 different horses that she has owned over the years, many of whom were bought specifically for me. I have to admit, however, that in the time since I graduated from high school I have definitely neglected the horses. I am very glad to see, though, that Grandma has gathered a group of other ladies about her age and they all go for trail rides together. I guess I don't feel quite so bad about only riding the horses about once a year since high school now. True, I have had some very good excuses for the last little bit. I've been pregnant, or had very small children for the last 5 1/2 years. Well, Alex has finally reached an age where he is ready to ride horses and I don't have to freak out and worry quite so much that he'll get stepped on or something. He's 4...
What? You don't think 4 is a good age to start riding horses? It just so happens that I rode my very first horse, well a VERY gentle pony named Speckles, when I was 4. When I think back, I don't remember being so small, and now I look at Alex and I just think "I couldn't possibly have been this young!" But I was. I know that I was proficient with horses at an early age by the reactions of people around me. I remember buying Billy. He was the sweetest paint pony. Everywhere we went we got offers for people to buy him "If you ever think about selling him, just give us a call". We never did sell him. He died when I was a freshman in high school from colic and I cried and cried. Anyway, I don't remember how old I was at the time (maybe 6 or 7), but Grandma took me with her to buy Billy. The family selling him had a little boy about my age, maybe a little older, and apparently sweet old Billy wasn't being ridden by said boy. Grandma and I pulled up in her brown Ford Truck, opened up the camper back (where all the tack was kept) and we saddled up Billy. I climbed up and trotted down the road. The people selling Billy were so shocked that Grandma would let me ride by myself "Is she going to be alright?!" they asked her. Grandma just laughed. By this time, I could saddle a horse and ride alone on just about any trail ride. It never occurred to me that I shouldn't be able to do this.
Until you are 8 yrs old, you can't officially be in 4-H. Well, 8yrs old by January first. My birthday's in April, so when I turned 8, Grandma signed my sister and I up for horses in 4-H. Since I hadn't been 8 as of January 1, I was put in "mini's" which I thought was stupid. In minis, you don't get to participate in the actual horse show, you get 1 little event where you negotiate a small obstacle course on your horse and get a little treat out of a mail box. Of course I could do this on my own no problem, but at the County Fair that year, they INSISTED that Grandma accompany me through the course. They wanted to make her lead me along, but we wouldn't have any of that. Apparently 8 yr olds aren't old enough to ride alone either, even in a perfectly safe arena.
Anyway, back to today. Alex is 4. The same age I was when my whole horse life started as a kid. Now that I'm a mom, I can't imagine letting him run around out in the open trail like we did as kids, or even at this point going on a long trail ride with him in the saddle in front of me. It still kind of freaks me out. Isn't it funny how we look back at what we did as kids and think "I can't believe we survived that!" Apparently, I have more fear for my son than he has for himself though, because here he is riding and guiding the horse ALL BY HIMSELF! AT 4!
I took video of this on my digital camera, but when I uploaded the pictures, they somehow disappeared. I'm very upset. I had plans to save that for posterity and to show the whole world how proud I am of my little boy. Alas, I suppose that means that we need to go back up to the farm soon and take another video.
This is Scooter, who is the newest horse to join our group. She is 11 yrs old and was just absolutely wonderful today to have little kids on her. She was calm and went wherever Alex told her to. What a trooper! And that's the cute little pony saddle that I bought a couple of years ago for Christmas on E-bay for $100!
Shaya, on the other hand is quite a bit more timid than Alex. She was terrified of Scooter at first, and clung to my leg. I think her seeing Alex riding around convinced her that it might be OK, because after a bit she was saying that she wanted to ride the horse too.She wasn't confident enough to be up there by herself, though, so once the horse was moving I needed to be up there with her.Through all of this, Brendan was just a wonderful little angel and slept wrapped in a blanket in his car seat. I put it in the back of the van where I could see him and where he was in the shade. He was actually my biggest worry. I brought the front carrier with me, but it is REALLY difficult to lift an older child up onto a horses back with a baby strapped to your chest...lol