Birdie, because that's what I am calling her now, Birdie has been bugging us for about a year to take horseback riding lessons. I called a place... no return call. I went out to a place... no follow up. I kept telling "Birdie" that we were working on it. Mostly though, mostly I was hoping she'd forget.
But, she's stubborn and only remembers things that are important-- like where the cookies are and forgets things that are useless-- like where she hid her school shoes.
Finally, I went to google and googled it. Palmetto Stables was one of the four new places I called and Palmetto Stables was the only place to call me back. Little did I know what a great thing this would be.
According to the World Wide Web, Palmetto Stables came highly recommended.
They say that music teachers have the most patience. I have learned that, yes, music teachers have the most patience. But horseback riding instructors for children-- those people? Those people would put Job to shame and are working on shining their halo.
Birdie asks a lot of questions. Birdie needs to be told several times to do things. Birdie likes to pet the cat. But, Birdie really, really likes horseback riding.
It's Monday and that's horseback riding day. I get in line at school at a ridiculously early hour to be first in line. An hour and a half before school lets out, I am in line- with my computer, water, and lists of things I need to do. Ten minutes after my car is in park, I am no longer the only one in line. Carline "A" ... it stands for Alpha-- Alpha Moms, that is. After picking her up, we drive straight out to Palmetto Stables, taking about thirty minutes, thanks to all the school traffic. She has a quick snack on the way and changes in the car.
BTW-- ain't nothing cheap about horseback riding... and we don't even own a horse! I enjoy how much she enjoys it, but to buy the helmet, the boots, the pants (that you will note she has already outgrown thanks to a growth spurt), and the lessons... not to mention the carrots for Tater and his girlfriend, Tot, every week... it can get pricy.
But, ohhhhh-- she loves it. And it is giving her such self confidence. And she is doing things I would never have dreamt she would ever do. Like ignore a fly buzzing around her instead of screaming and running in the other direction. Or putting her hands on a horse and cleaning his hooves.
Birdie goes into Taters stall, brings him to the place where he gets his hooves cleaned, and she both blankets and saddles him. After leading him to the ring, Leighton works with her on walking, trotting, posture, and a bunch of other things I don't know. After about twenty minutes of riding, she returns Tater to clean his hooves, brush his tail, and pet his nose.
Birdie comes out of the barn hot and sweaty. Hot, sweaty, and the biggest-- sweetest-- smile on her face. On the way home, she tells me all about Tater and what he did. She tells me about his girlfriend, Tot, and how funny it is that their names are "Tater" and "Tot." Yammer... yammer... yammer.... we yammer on and on about Tater and how much fun it is to ride horses.
I mentioned to a friend that we were starting Birdie on horseback riding lessons. She was emphatic about how wonderful it will be for her. She will learn how to muck stalls, gain discipline, and responsibility. She went on and on about it and it helped me realize that, while expensive, it is a great opportunity for her. Just because I want her to be a ballerina, does not mean she will be. We have to encourage her to do the things that she wants.