My daughter went from telling me that she’s not into riding and she’s never going to ride to calling me and asking when I’m coming home because she wants to go ride. This happened literally overnight. In one 24 hour cycle she went from non-horsey girl to full on equestrian diva, tall boots and all. I owe it all to a twenty-something Percheron cross named Gracie.
If you know me well, you know that I have spent countless hours and dollars on anything that might interest my daughter in riding. I borrowed a fancy show pony, bought two donkeys for her to train and love, paid for riding lessons that she lost interest in, took her to a leadline show so she could get a taste of ribbon winning, bought all the clothes, helmet, half chaps, and paddock boots, and basically harassed her about riding since she could walk.
She swore she was never going to be a rider, but her BFF is a rider and eventually she got tired of being left behind while her best friend and all the grown-ups at the barn took off down the trails. She asked me if she could ride Bella, a beautiful but opinionated half Arab mare that my friend owns. Sure, I told her, knowing full well that it would not go well and hoping that it would make her more amenable to the idea of riding Gracie, a ginormous but gentle Percheron cross that belongs to my other friend. Just as predicted, Bella marched right back to the pasture gate and stood there, refusing to move. Exasperated, my kid decided maybe riding Gracie wasn’t such a bad plan after all.
One ride was all it took. She realized THIS was a horse she could control, have fun with even. This horse wasn’t taking off anywhere; she’s far too lazy for that. It takes an act of Congress to get her to canter, and her trot is a very pleasant, slow bounce. In the past week we have progressed from riding independently in the yard, to being ponied on the trail, to riding independently on the trail, to doing a big loop that includes the trail and riding on the road. All of it has been a success. Gracie doesn’t spook or take off or get squirrelly or rush home or any of the things that horses do to annoy their riders. Gracie walks calmly down the road like a good girl. Gracie is worth her weight in gold, and Gracie weighs A LOT.
I have already bought Gracie a new regular halter, because Elle has trouble tying a rope halter. I will buy Gracie anything in the whole wide world if it will keep my child interested in riding with me. I have ridden more this week than I usually get to, because my kid wanted to come with me and I didn’t feel like I was neglecting my parenting duties to go ride. Gracie wants a halter? Done. Gracie wants a lifetime supply of cotton candy and a karaoke machine? No problem. Anything, I tell you. I will buy all the things if my child will just keep riding!