Little girls want them.
Cowboys look good on them.
Ranchers need them.
Fair and parade-goers see them.
And at 39 years old, I didn’t know that I would be buying one of them!
It started when Emerson, my daughter, was 3 years old. She started asking about riding horses. For her 5th birthday, I was that obnoxious parent that ordered riding ponies for a cowgirl themed party! Six was the magic age, I had given up thinking this would suddenly fade into another obsession. Something like guitar lessons, ballet, soccer or another activity like most of her friends. WRONG! Three months shy of Emerson’s 6th birthday we found ourselves visiting a riding stable in Hudson Wisconsin to explore horses and what riding lessons would look like. Five minutes in she was smitten and asking the trainer, “When can I start riding?” I thought, “We are only going to do lessons, we are not going to get in over our heads,” at least that was what I told my husband, myself and my daughter.
Emerson tried soccer, dance and softball, they didn’t really stick. All of my kids have been encouraged to try new things and explore the possibilities of team sports or solo endeavors. Yet, there is something so glorious and hard to explain when you see your child find their passion. It’s hard to even put into words what this looks like.
“We are only going to do lessons,
we are not going to get in over our heads,”
I told my husband we were starting with lessons only lessons. It quickly became apparent that Emerson wasn’t only in love with riding she also had a talent for it. Eventually, we decided to “lease” a horse. His name was Jasper. We called Jasper was our “first love.” Leasing was a great way for us to see if this really was something we should invest in. It was like having our own horse yet without all the responsibilities.
Emerson began learning the “ropes” of riding and soon discovered she wanted to get serious and more involved with actually “showing” the horse. And showing horses was an entirely new world, one in which we all were about to learn.
We were CLUELESS!
Emerson had to learn to post, trot, two-point (what?), be on the right diagonal when riding with her horse, etc., this is a sport! And to play the sport you had to learn how to play the game. It was going to be hard work. This came at a cost; sore legs, sore thighs, sore abdominal muscles. It was an entire workout during every lesson she had. We were CLUELESS! Then came the show clothes; different boots, special helmets, hair pulled back in a special bun, special pins, etc., this was BIG time.
When we started the Show Season in the spring, we learned so much about this sport and about our daughter and how it was going to effect our entire family. We didn’t really have a plan. So, we started asking the questions, “Was the whole family going to every show Emerson was in? How many shows would we plan on during the season? How far were we willing to drive. Does our daughter understand the time and cost commitment?” This was to be taken seriously, it was a financial commitment.
We’ve learned it’s not about all the fancy ribbons and what place you came in, but what you experienced and whether or not you had fun doing it? Show season has taught my daughter sportsmanship, friendships, work ethic, teamwork, encouragement, disappointment, frustration, goal-setting, focus and most important self-confidence. Three years later and my daughter is still dedicated.
As a family, we decided in the past year that having a horse to call our own was something that we were ready to invest in. I also started taking riding lessons, I however, do not have any interest in showing, that is for Emerson. We decided that spending days at the barn with our own horse would be a gift we could give our daughter and our family. The gift was not just the horse itself, but the lesson in family sacrifice, work ethic and dedication. Buying a horse is a big deal and defiantly not something everyone does, nor did we ever think we would do.
The day that we brought that horse to our riding barn (St. Croix Training Center in Hudson Wisconsin) was one of my favorite days and one that I will never forget. Watching Emerson cry and tell us that she would work hard, save money and bring a lunch from home was priceless. Seeing her wrestle with the idea of the sacrifices she would be giving and taking those into consideration was worth every moment.
Finn is our 6-year-old Arabian Gelding. He is a beautiful gentle giant and we have all fallen in love with him. He is eager to snuggle and loves to eat. Emerson can bathe him, ride him, take him outside and will eventually show him! We are grateful for him and the lessons this horse has given us. It’s not just the horse, it was the process to get here. The bonding and the memories we’ve created have been the best moments of my life.
I wouldn’t trade horses or barn life for anything.