Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spirited Riders

When I was a little girl, I was horse crazy. 
When I was a teenager I rode horses all the time and would have lived at the barn if I had the choice! 
Then gradually life shifted away from the barn. I began art lessons and work in the city, 
I married my childhood sweetheart and we started a family together. Change is part of life and I can't even express how happy I am with my little family.
But you know, from time to time I would feel that pang only a horse lover (who hasn't ridden in 6 years) would understand ...

Which is why I was overjoyed when my husband bought me riding lessons!

So, I went to the barn on Saturday and I rode

Fine Chocolate. 

I know what you're thinking "Abi, how in the world did you manage to get the horse with eyes closed??
I know, I've wondered the same thing many times.

 My 2 year old daughter loves the idea of her mother riding a horse named Chocolate,
even better, I told her that Chocolate's friend is named Fancy. "Fancy!" she exclaimed "is she pink?"
Well, sorry, but no. Life is full of disappointment. 

She might not be pink, but she IS pretty!
 The weather was windy. I mean really windy, like jumps being blown over and little tornadoes swirling around the ring. We've had a lot of rain and Choc had not been ridden in a while so my trainer decided to let Choc run around the ring a little before I hopped on... good call. 
That horse flew! She bucked, she snorted, she splashed through the mud like an Australian Brumby with Jim Craig hot on her heels. 
You can imagine how I felt as I took the reigns... but she was as gentle as a kitten. We had a fantastic ride and I left with a smile on my face (even though my legs might be a little sore).

All this reminds me of something I read from Rachel Jankovic on little girls & emotions
We tell our girls that their feelings are like horses-beautiful, spirited horses. But they are the riders. We tell them that God gave them this horse when they were born, and they will ride it their whole life. God also set us on a path on the top of a mountain together and told us to follow it. We can see for a long way- there are beautiful flowers, lakes, trees, and rainbows (We are little girls after all)! 
When our emotions act up, it is like the horse is trying to jump the fence and run down into a yucky place full of spiders to get lost in the dark. A good rider knows what to do when the horse tries to bolt- you pull on the reigns! Turn the horse's head! Get back on the path! We also tell our girls that God told us if we see one of them with their horse down in a mud puddle spitting at people who walk by, it is our job to haul them up, willing or unwilling, back to the path. The ways that this has helped me as a mother are pretty obvious, but I will share them anyway if you will bear with me. 
First of all, the horses are not the problem. There is nothing wrong with emotions.
If we have a rider who is woefully unprepared to control her horse, well then, we had better start with some pretty serious riding lessons. Anticipate moments that might be hard, when the horse might bolt, and help them learn to anticipate it too. Take a break to say "Hey sweetie, we are going to the store, but we aren't going to buy any toys today. If you start feeling like you want to fuss about it, what are we going to do?" Wink. Encourage. Give lots of praise when you see her overcoming little emotional temptations. Be right there with her as she learns to recognize what is happening. Little girls can be scared out of their minds when their emotions charge off with them. They need the security of parents pulling them back up.
The goal is not to cripple the horse, but equip the rider. A well-controlled passionate personality is a powerful thing. But a passionate personality that is unbridled can cause a world of damage. If you see a lot of passion in your little girls, don't be discouraged. It is just a wonderful raw material... But don't treat it lightly either- runaway horses can be a very real threat to your little girls.

I can't wait to use this illustration with my little girl... and you know, it just might help my little boys too!


  1. I like the third shot. Horses are beautiful animals and have therapeutic, relaxing look.
    Have a nice day

  2. Oh my. I would have FLIPPED! Riding lessons?! How wonderful. =)
    I, too, rode horses through high school when we lived in WA. I did three day eventing and earned my horse's board at the stable by mucking seven stalls each day. I loved it. I know that pang, missing the barn days of forever ago...
    Have a lovely time at your next lesson!