Have I Lost My Mind? I Enrolled Three Kids in Horseback Riding Lessons

The trouble with telling one grandchild she can learn to ride a horse is that you have six more

I have two granddaughters that have wanted riding lessons forever. Well, at least ever since they learned to talk, they've been saying "Ride the Horsey."

So last weekend, I decided it was about time, and I took the 5-year-old out to meet the folks at a local riding stable, C Arrow Stables, that is known for emphasizing teaching the WHOLE experience of having a horse, complete with scooping, raking and grooming as well as actual saddle time.

She was enthralled and the stable was offering a special -- daylong camps every Saturday in October with a "showoff" rodeo at the end. How could a grandma resist?

But how can you sign up the 5-year-old and not the 9-year-old who has been begging FOREVER? So I signed them both up. And enrolled the 7-year-old, who is sure she doesn't want to be left out but not so sure she wants to do this, for an hour-long lesson just to see how it goes.

The first Saturday was Oct. 2. They did great, even with the poop scooing part. They LOVED the riding and told me with total excitement they already did "tricks" like riding a course around barrels.

Today, the four year old informed me that she will  be five "even before next year" and that's old enough for riding, right grandma? And I have two three-year-olds chiming "me too, me too" and a two-year saying "horsey, horsey, neigh" and it occurs to me that I have unleashed a monster.

Tonight, I decided to do the math and see just what this decision may eventually cost me. And when I was still in sticker shock, the 9-year-old says "Grandma, did you know I can have my OWN horse and keep it at C-Arrow? How soon, do you think, can I buy my own horse?"

Before I could fall out from sheer financial overload, I recalled my conversation with one of the teachers at C-Arrow's horse academy. Kids who learn about working with the horses and the other animals at the stable (they have a full petting zoo) learn first hand about caring for animals and about the inevitable realities of the animal world, which include injury, disease, much more rapid aging than humans, and eventually, death.

They learn that animals are NOT people and they become much less vulnerable to the propaganda of groups like HSUS. And they learn that you can love, bond and care for animals without ever forgetting that they are animals.

They also learn to observe their surroundings, watch for what needs to be done and take care of necessary tasks without someone telling them what to do, skills that are sadly lacking in many, many children growing up today.

So, I looked that kid right in the eye and I said "Just as soon as I am sure that you know everything you need to know about taking care of a horse and are ready for the responsibility."

Belatedly, it occurred to me that I should have added "and as soon as you can drive yourself back and forth to the stable."

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