I hope this little space of mine doesn’t turn in to a blog just about postpartum depression and horses.
We did not get Toska for Christmas.
Just to reiterate.
But we are holding out hope that something will work out to where we can buy her.
Even I’m attached to Toska.
Which if you know me at all, that’s saying a lot.
Because I’m afraid of horses.
Repeat: I’m afraid of horses.
And yes, three of my children ride.
And yes, I feel like I live at the barn.
We started this about 2 1/2 years ago. Caroline was showing no interest in “traditional” sports — we tried soccer, t-ball, ballet, etc. She really just wasn’t in to it.
Soccer. First, she would insist on wearing a tutu. And then when we could finally get her attention on the field from all of the daydreaming and prancing around, we would tell her to go get the ball. She literally…went and picked up the soccer ball and threw it in the goal. Score! NOT.
Ballet. Now, she did like ballet for a while. She was with the Denver Academy of Ballet for two years. But not enough action. She was bored.
T-ball. A joke.
My mom, aka Nana, has a love of horses and was even on the NC Horse Council and traveled to several big horse events around the country volunteering. So she suggested, “Hey, why don’t the girls try a riding lesson, just to see how they like it?”
Really the first year was kind of hit or miss with lessons. We were just kind of trying it out, getting our feet wet.
This was Caroline’s first lesson on Silky!
Things just kind of gradually progressed. I almost said “organically progressed” but that would sound too much like Ina Garten.
I have to be honest, we were a one-lesson-a-week family probably until the start of this year. Then we gradually increased to two lessons a week and then three. Yes, it is crazy expensive. But we really watched the girls’ love of horses and the sport grow. When they started spending their “free” time on the weekends at the barn, doing chores without the expectation of riding, we knew they were serious.
It was just this last May that we leased a horse for the first time. We only leased him for a month, but SO much changed in that month. Something major clicked with Caroline. She went from trotting poles/crossrails in the Snowflake Series in May to cantering a course of crossrails at the end of May and then competing in short stirrups in June at Summer in the Rockies. She has major horse goals now. She wants to be in a National Hunter Derby by 15. She wants to go to Emory and Henry on a scholarship. (Conveniently close to Nana and Papa.) She wants to ride professionally and eventually have her own barn: Willow Bridge Riding Club.
Yes, I realize she is 10.
But boy, do I love how this 10-year-old dreams.
I don’t mean to leave LC out of this. At all. She is just not quite as obsessed as Caroline. I mean, don’t get me wrong. She LOVES her horses. Actually, I think she is more of a pony girl. But the main difference between LC and Caroline is the fear factor. LC can be very timid and is sometimes afraid of Toska.
*I wrote up until this point yesterday*
So yesterday LC was hacking Toska because Caroline has Flu A. Typically LC only likes to ride Toska in her lesson on Tuesday and hack on Sunday. Caroline rides Toska the other four days. Toska was moving around in her stall a little bit yesterday — even I wasn’t nervous, it was that minor — mom for the win! But it was pretty cold, so LC got nervous that she would be frisky to ride. I’m super proud of her for working through her emotions (while I was standing there so cold snot was probably frozen to my face) and walking/trotting Toska for a while.
But then…Karen asked if she wanted to exercise a pony. Boy, let me tell you, she took off flying around on that pony.
So I just kind of confirmed my previous statement that LC is still a little intimidated of Toska.
And that’s ok.
She is allowed to have her feelings, too. Yes, even LC has feelings. Despite putting Renn in his place on a daily basis.
Someone asked me what happens at the end of all of this…the horse riding.
Now, I’m still new to this but these are my thoughts as of now…
Our girls are learning to dream. I almost wrote “set goals” first, but I think it’s more important at this age that a kid dreams. Without the dream there is no hope and I am a firm believer that without hope there is very little. (My dad told me that after Allie’s birth. He’s a very wise man.)
If you have the dream, you can set goals. At first, they may be baby goals. For instance, Caroline watched an older teenager (aka Barn Superstar) during her lesson a few days ago. Caroline came home with a list of mental notes of things to work on. While she has several big goals set, she is learning how to achieve those big goals with small steps.
The responsibility component of this sport is huge for me. RJ will sometimes ask, “Why are they so responsible at the barn but can’t find their socks at home?” While I admit they are not as consistent at home, I cut them a little slack because they show me 6 days a week that they can care for and manage a horse, down to picking shavings out of Toska’s tail. Aside from the responsibility of caring for another being, I think Caroline is developing the role of helping out some of the newer/younger kids at the barn. She is learning to manage her time while helping others — huge, people. Huge.
And of course there is the competition. This is definitely a part of it, but Karen always stresses the importance of doing your personal best. It is more about how you have grown and progressed as a rider than what the other competitors are doing at this stage. I like that.
And at the end of the day I think some people just have a innate connection with horses. There is a passion that is unspeakable and a love immeasurable. And that lasts a lifetime.