Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Giddyup

I don't think there is a kid alive who hasn't watched in wide-eyed wonder that scene in The Black Stallion where Alec finally gains The Black's trust and rides him triumphantly bareback on the beach. You don't have to be a horse person to fall in love with that moment.

As my LONG time friend and faithful reader Michele can attest to, I am NOT a horse person. To say I am afraid of these beautiful beasts is a drastic under statement. After one too many horse rides in Brownies growing up, watching various girlfriends get rolled and thrown, I developed a deep respect (ahem, fear) for the power and strength of horses. I prefer to interact with them from a great, great distance... like through a movie screen. (don't even ask about the time I had to cover a rodeo for a kids TV show I worked for, eeeek!)
(apparently, he gets it from his Grandma, who is a tried and true horse girl. here they are grooming TicToc before a lesson.)
So of course, I get a horse kid. It probably started with Black Stallion (which we always watch MINUS the first 20 minutes of scary shipwreck scene), one of our favorite family movie night flicks. The boy has been BEGGING for horse back riding lessons. If any of you have little ones who ride, you know how expensive an endeavor that can be. But out in Hawaii, they were somewhat affordable (and grandma & grandpa generously gifted the lessons), so my boy got to ride.
Miss Loki out at Parker Ranch was the perfect match for Zach. Sweet and calm, but never talked down, no goofy "kid games", very straight forward. And from the get go she trusted him and so he trusted himself and her lovely horses.
She uses an English saddle for wee riders, and no reins. I guess the idea is that little ones just starting out tend to hold the reins for dear life if they are unsure, and that's not good for the horse or the rider. So she teaches them to ride hands free from day one, using their posture and legs and shoulders to control their ride. Great for the kid, more gray hairs for the mama.But that's ok, they're just walking. She has a lead line. Oh wait, they're trotting! Ack!
But he's still smiling, so big in fact I think his dimples may burst. Ok, so he's trotting no handed on a huge, heavy, strong, unpredictable animal. My baby. Ok, I can deal. He's doing great. So great that no she wants him to post while cantering. WHAT? Up-down-up-down-up-down-more-gray-hairs. She says he's the first kid she's taught that got the rhythm of posting on the first try (and the youngest!) And now he's not just smiling, he laughing joyfully. He's Alec on the beach. He's in his happy place.
And I am a mama needing a stiff drink, some phobia therapy, and a side job to pay for more lessons. Wouldn't soccer be easier?

20 comments:

eringoodman said...

you are too funny!!!

and what a lucky boy you have. my daughter (who is the same age as Zach) is a crazy horse lover so i know there are lessons in our future at some point.

right now she's content to play with her little wooden horses and chase her brother (wearing finger-knitted reins) around the house.

but soon enough i'm sure i'll be on the sidelines watching her ride...or maybe (hopefully) riding alongside her!!!

by the way...my crazy over-the-top phobia is flying -- something we will be doing for the first time as a family in a little over a week!! eeeeek!

~erin

Stuff On My Blog said...

What gorgeous pics.. you can totally see his bliss right on his face :) He looks like he did an amazing job too, what a little natural!

Have a Bailies mama, and soldier on!

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Great pics! Those are really going to be ones you and he will treasure years from now. Good for you...soccer might be easier but then you would have to deal with all of the soccer moms :) (just kidding!) Noah has been begging to start riding lessons and we might try doing it together this spring.

House Mother said...

Take lessons together...it's wonderful. But don't expect to feel comfortable on the first day -- riding requires a lot of muscles we don't often use unless you're a runner or serious hiker, and a lot of confidence. Practice, practice, practice. Once you get the hang of it, you'll love it. Like knitting (argh!)

Bethany said...

Wow Zach - no hands! -That is so cool.Looks like he had an amazing experience and a great instructor and horse. What a life!

Shanda said...

Wonderful post! Funny yet sooo true.

Must Love Dogs said...

I had a horse for years and miss it so much....learning to ride and the love horses is such a blessing, but oh yes....the cost. The cost, the cost, the cost.

I love the photos....you can tell how happy he was! :)

Laura!

(lala) from the livingaboard forum....

Ellenjohnrubicon said...

wow- now that's some adventure. i love him with those hands flying!

Joy said...

Good for you for overcoming your fears enough to let Zach try something he's interested in. I have to admit when Elizabeth first mentioned that she wanted to ride, I was more than a little nervous as well. I had a horseback riding accident in 7th grade that left me with a healthy fear and really didn't want to go there with any of my kids. I will say that she loved lessons while she was taking them and it was a great experience for both of us. I couldn't watch much though (especially in the arm-raised riding like you're showing). I'd bring a book and sit outside the arena for the most part. :)

Cassandra said...

I rode horses a bit when I was younger. My auntie had one as did my best friend. I loved riding horses, but I will say I was never completely comfortable on them. I was so light, as soon as they got close to home, they would run and I couldn't control them, so I would just hold on for dear life.

I completely understand the nerves, mama, and wait for the day when it's one of my babes up there.

Michele said...

Remember that one time back home I tried to get you on a horse!!! You know all you have to do is schlep the boy back to KS and Grandpa Larry will let him ride horses for free and teach him everything he needs to know.

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Go, Zacn!!
I feel for you:) When Maia took up circus and did her first high trapeze trick I thought I would pass out...
It's all an act of letting go and watching them soar. Or post.
Good luck fitting a horse on a boat. At least the unicycle doesn't need hay...

Wendy said...

Our youngest is 11 and she began lessons last year. Luckily it's with my step-mom, who teaches professionally, so everything's been completely free so far (my dad's outfitted her with all the necessary riding gear). I found it so exciting to see her riding around in a circle with her hands up in the air (and I'm actually very freaked out around horses). And watching her learn to post was just so amazing. The part that still blows me away, though, is how confident she is when she tacks up the horse, which is a big part of the lessons. Watching her tiny little self lead this giant of a horse around gets me every time.

Little Lovables said...

having been drug throuh a thorny forest mountain side by a free spirited horse, with cuts, black eyes and torn clothing to prove, I still love horses, though I never have the chance to ride.

zach looks like he is doing a wonderful job and really at home here, how exciting!

busygnomes said...

Yes, I'm sure it's in the blood. Both my dad and Mum grew up with the love of horses, and they had many.My sister asked for a horse everyday for many years, and finally when she was 12 she got one. Her life and work has been surrounded by these great animals.I on the other hand had no interest in them at all, and broken bones to prove they had no interest in me either. I got given a moterbike instead!.
All my children love going to auntie Donna's house as there is always a horse to ride.

Christine said...

oh, i know what you mean about a drink.

healing hillary said...

love the dust and the arms in the air...living life...(more gray hairs....so cute!)

boatbaby said...

erin - funny how we all have our thing. I love to fly. And I also enjoy the dentist which makes many people freak. I fall asleep during both. :) Good luck on your trip!

Barney said...

You ask "wouldn't soccer be easier?" It makes me think of how some people may ask, "Wouldn't it be easier to live on land?" Maybe, maybe not. It doesn't mean it's better. The photos show the gift of support and confidence you guys have given Zach in life. And gray looks striking in black hair.

barefoot in gitchigumee said...

clearly, for the boy, this is bliss, the bottom pic says it all. looks like more gray hairs are in your future;)

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