Jake is getting June a horse. I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I love the confidence and dexterity that comes from horseback riding. There is something so cool about a little girl riding a horse. It’s the stuff that Western Barbie dreams are made of. On the other hand, June’s only two and a half, way too young to even “sit a horse” (bizarre horse parlance for sitting ON a horse) though it’s never too early to expose a child to good animal stewardship. My big concern is over her riding instructor: Jake.
My husband is a great rider; super confident, strong, agile who is absolutely nutty for animals. He was a bull rider when I met him (and, oh yeah, he’s a veteran of two wars) so it goes without saying he has zero fear risking his neck on the backs of flighty, unpredictable beasts capable of horning him in the face (he still has the scar to prove it). Testosterone flows through his veins like hillbillies bleed Mountain Dew.
My concern is that he may try to apply a similar “no fear” approach to our daughter’s riding lessons. Why do I think this? Oh, no reason, other than that’s what he tried on me when I entertained thoughts of learning to ride many moons ago. I saw horseback riding as an opportunity to spend more time together. He saw it as an exercise in pushing me to my physical and spiritual limits. It was like going on a “casual” bike ride with Lance Armstrong; beyond the realm of possibility. Jake couldn’t comprehend what I was so afraid so. He didn’t get why it was so hard for me to “control my horse” by turning the animal left, then right, then left again. He didn’t understand why simply “sitting a horse” was such a terrifying and grammatical challenge for me.
The lessons typically ended not so great, with Jake surprised by his new wife’s core wimpitude (“holy crap, I married a weinie!”) and me annoyed by his lack of TLC. Our last horseback ride together was the day I got bucked off. I haven’t been on a horse since. Nor do I plan to. I’m actually really fine with this. Horses are overrated.
But now it’s June’s turn.
I imagine the next few years of her equestrian training will be spent teaching her to simply be comfortable around the horse, whether or not she actually sits on one. This implies that no nightmarish accidents may occur during this time. So perhaps I don’t need to seriously worry about this issue for at least another couple of years when she’s actually galloping around the paddock as a three year old. Oh man, just thinking that terrifies me. I’m also hoping that six years of marriage to an appalling wimp and nearly three years of fatherhood to a dainty cherubic little girl have softened Jake up a bit. Hopefully he’ll be able to teach her to ride wearing kid gloves.