I keep seeing videos lately, of “how to tell people they can’t ride your horse”. They usually are rude and snippy, and insinuate that the people who ask to ride someone else’s horse are losers who do not deserve your time or manners.
But, you know, if that was the way everyone was, lots of little kids would never become interested in horses.
Lots of adults who want to get into riding, but aren’t sure about it would never start.
Now, I understand that if you have an expensive, crazy highly trained horse, you don’t want to turn a beginner loose on them. If you have a high-strung horse that isn’t good with kids, or people who are a bit nervous, you don’t want to offer pony rides.
But a lot of people are saying these things just because, when people find out you have a horse, they ask if they can ride it.
They’re saying that they won’t let anyone else have a ride on their backyard pony, or their “safe for everyone” trail horse.
It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that the horse community was friendlier than that.
When we were little, my sister, who wasn’t into horses, would have friends over. They wanted to have a ride, because that’s what most little girls want when they see horses.
None of them knew how to ride. They lived in town, and weren’t from families who were well-off enough to pay for riding lessons.
So my parents and I put them on my pony, or on the Appaloosas my parents had, and gave them pony rides around the pasture. Nothing fancy, but it was fun.
My friends are mostly to the age now that they’re not so interested in horses, so I don’t typically have people asking for rides.
But the other day, my Aunt was telling me that her grandson and his wife and child were in town, and they wanted to give their son a chance to at least sit on a horse (he’s about 18 months).
My Aunt is the one who gave me riding lessons when I was little, and sold me my first pony, but she recently sold her horses, so she couldn’t offer rides at her place. I told her to come on over for pony rides.
There ended up being 3 kids who wanted to ride. There was the 18 month old, and I think the other two were around 4 and 9 or so.
Both of my mares were ready to go, but only Sophie ended up being ridden.
The kids were all very excited about the prospect of riding, but when they got close to the mares, they realized suddenly how big and scary horses are.
It took a little while to get them over their fear, and the youngest kid refused to ride until his Dad got on Sophie first.
All told, we made about 4 turns of the roundpen, with me leading. The kids just couldn’t do more than that.
But they were excited about the experience, and spending time with the horses. And the cats…the cats may be more exciting at that age than the horses.
I love my horses. I’d never give someone the reins and turn them loose to do as they pleased with the horses. But I hope that I always have horses that are willing and able to give rides to people.
And I hope that I am always willing to share my horses with people.
Whether it’s a kid who doesn’t often get a chance to see animals that size, or adults who have always wanted to ride a horse, I hope to be able to give someone else the experiences that I was so fortunate to have at a very young age.
And I hope that, if my horse isn’t safe for random people to ride, I at least have the decency to politely say no, and not make people feel inferior for asking. That’s just common kindness…
But, in a world where so many activities for kids focus on screens, and keep them inside, the more people we can get outside and on horses, the better.