I finally got up the courage to call Aleta a few weeks ago to see if we could come over for a visit. I didn't want to impose upon her summer. Diddles has been asking to "wide Leta's hoases" all summer long! Aleta lives just outside of town, and their horse pasture is across the highway nearby. We arranged for today for Mike to take her for a ride. The first time I saw him, I knew I could trust him with a horse and my child. You can tell by looking at him, he has a passion for horses and riding. Despite their being divorced, he and Aleta still have a really close friendship, which was really nice to see.
Diddles got some serious cold feet on the way there. I had to carry her like a toddler out of the car and over to the corral. You'd think I was forcing her to ride! Weren't you the one asking me to do this all summer? Again, it just showed me how she gets really anxious with new people and new experiences. Once she tries it, she loves it, but she clung to me like a little scared monkey. Mike galloped over with Serenity (an Arab quarter horse cross), and he let her sniff our hand and we pet her neck and nose and looked at her beautiful mane and saddle.
Aleta's idea to put on a little peer pressure was perfect. Let's get Mom up on the horse! She stood with Diddles and calmly talked to her about what I was doing, and how fun it was. So, up I climbed, and Mike walked me around the corral and told me about his passion for horses. He called himself a "Buckaroo", not a cowboy, which made me chuckle at first, but then I realized it was a legitimate thing! Apparently, Vaqueros and Buckaroos have a style of training horses that hail from a certain region of the US. His training includes a lot of "ground" work, and really gaining the horses' trust. He has no patience for "dumb" riders (I was pretty sure I was one), but he clarified that a dumb rider was someone who thinks they know what they're doing and really DON'T. He was really fun to talk to, and once I got past his frankness and strong language, I learned a LOT about him and horses!
After a few times around, Diddles was willing to take a turn. Off I got, and on she went, and oh...the smile! It was pretty magical. I was near-tears the whole time, knowing how happy this was making her. Mike told us how much he loved working with kids because riding a horse just comes naturally to them. Adults over-think things, and think they know more than the horse. Kids, he said, "move with the horse, not against it."
They took a little break from "climbing the mountain" (going around in circles), and he showed her how to pet its neck and say, "Good girl". She followed his direction really well, and by the end, she was asking him questions and reaching for him to take her off the horse! We fed Serenity apples and helped put away the saddle.
I thanked them so sincerely for letting us come and ride. I gave Aleta a big hug. I wasn't sure if Mike would appreciate a hug, so I told him, "She will be talking about this for a long time." Mike was so kind. "You bring her back. I mean that now. Don't go waiting weeks. You come back real soon. I'm out here almost every day. Just give me a call, and come on by."
|Diddles and Aleta|
He's the nicest Buckaroo I've ever met. :)