Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Gonna be a Packer Pony Yet!

My little cousin is kind of into horses. She's at that age where she's just starting to figure out what she likes on her own, but hasn't really made up her mind yet. I, of course, am the biggest advocate of children loving horses, so am perfectly happy to fuel that fire. Please let someone else in my family care even a little bit about my biggest passion! So when she asked me if she could ride my horse, I enthusiastically agreed.

And then I thought about my horse's behavior recently... To be fair to Casey, the past couple of weeks she's been pretty saintly and calm. There have been little incidents, but nothing major. She was really, really terrible about a month ago, but since then seems to have mellowed out. I decided to give Casey the benefit of the doubt and carry on with this plan, but took steps to ensure that it would be successful (riding her the day before to tire her out, giving her Ace the day of [vet-approved, I promise], and keeping the ride controlled.
Cousin & Casey
When my cousin arrived at the barn, things started off not on the best note. She's ridden before, but only Willow who is a pony-sized horse. When I grabbed Casey, my cousin's eyes grew wide and she was definitely intimidated by Casey's size. I encouraged cousin to give Casey treats and pets, but she didn't want to lead the horse into the barn. Once Casey was settled in the cross ties, she started getting cranky because of the flies. Casey's go-to move when the flies bug her is to toss her head, stomp around, and flail about until I fly spray her. This kind of freaked cousin out, because she thought Casey was being wild and crazy. I had to pull cousin aside and remind her that horses can sense when we are scared, and so it's important to be calm. After that cousin tried to act more calm, but wasn't wanting to go near Casey's head. I just let cousin do what she felt comfortable with and got Casey ready.
Casey seems HUGE with a child on her back
Finally it was time for the ride. I hopped on Casey first and just made sure that she was going to be good (usually Casey is very obvious when she is going to have a bad day). She was being calm and well-behaved so I hopped off, stuck the horse on the lunge line, and helped cousin up.
Cousin & Casey walking
At first cousin was nervous, because she was much higher up off the ground than she was used to and Casey has the world's biggest walk stride, but soon she got the hang of it and started to have fun! I had cousin work on steering and braking and Casey was being super patient & well-behaved. Cousin asked if she could trot and so I had Casey trot while I jogged along beside (just to ensure that she was going to be good) and it went smoothly. Then I was able to have them circle around me at the trot. Cousin remembered how to trot pretty quickly and Casey was being very calm and slow (for her). After a bit more trotting cousin was mentally/emotionally done riding, so we untacked Casey, gave her a million cookies, and put her away.
I love Casey's facial expression here. It's like she's asking if I'm sure about this whole kid situation.
I'm so proud of my horse. She's not the mellowest, or even the kindest, horse so that fact that she was so perfect with a kid is amazing. I think it's really just shown how much confidence and trust she has gained in people overall and with me specifically. I'm also super proud of my cousin because she is officially the bravest of all of my family members, being the only one to ask to trot Casey.
Look at how nice they look together!
Have you ever let kids ride your horse? What about other family members?