Just a few days after Yellow arrived in Spokane, I had some friends out to the barn to meet him. These friends were Becky, her husband Chris, and daughter Brooke (7) and Grace (4). Yellow, was also 4. Grace found that very entertaining.
Grace and Brooke brought their new riding helmets and I had been on Yellow enough that day to know he would be fine just carrying them on his back while he walked around the arena. And sure enough, that's exactly what Yellow did. Pretty soon each of the girls was in control of the reins, and I walked around with them, just in case.
Becky and Chris held a very strong point of view that if their girls were to ever get a horse, they must first understand all the work that goes into caring for one. During the months that the girls received "lessons," they were encouraged to groom, pick up after, and feed Yellow. There were a few times when the ride only lasted 15 minutes or so, because there was a lot of other care that needed to take place. As all of you with horses know, this is a very realistic occurrence.
When Yellow came to live on the farm in February, Brooke and Grace were pretty sad. Grace drew me several pictures of Yellow, most of them were of him getting to eat tons of apples (which the girls found out were his favorite!), and they write emails to check in on him.
In June, a former teacher of mine contacted me and told me her daughter, Audrey, was about to turn 5 and LOVES horses. Well, what 5 year old girl doesn't? She would love to pay me to let Audrey come pet the horse, brush the horse, feed the horse, and if it wasn't too much trouble, ride the horse. Of course!!
So on a beautiful Monday in June I got Yellow out and had my fiance saddle him up. We practiced having an adult ride behind the saddle because I knew both mother and child were anxious about riding a "big horse." He's 15 hands, only 2 inches taller than a pony, but most people don't realize that.
Audrey was quite nervous about getting on, and was very quiet. After her mom mounted and moved into position, we got Audrey in the saddle and off we went in a small loop in my back yard. After about 15 minutes, it was younger sister Maggie's turn. We took a short break to have some hot dogs and cupcakes, and then Audrey was ready to try it by herself. She was getting a little more assertive about wiggling her little legs to have him move forward, and gently pulling on the reins and saying, "Whoooooaaaaaa" to have him stop.
Just a week later another young lady, this time the daughter of a friend of my mom's, came over to ride the Amazing Lesson Horse. She was a lot more confident and sure of herself on my horse's back, and had lots of fun getting Yellow to go wherever she wanted.
Since these young cowgirls have ridden Yellow, he has also been ridden by many a novice cousin. He never loses his patience or his will. It's truly remarkable to watch a 5 year old horse respond to a 5 year old child the way he does. I will have absolutely no doubts putting my daughter on Yellow. And that will happen as soon as she can sit up on her own!
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