"Pony Day" is a day where I "teach" my boys to be cowboys. I catch the ponies, groom the ponies, clean the ponies' feet, saddle and bridle the ponies. Then my adorable children get on and ride the ponies while I walk. On foot. After the ride is over, we all return to the yard, where the children immediately run off and leave me to unsaddle, brush down and turn out the ponies. Then I yell at the children to help me while I clean the ponies' pen. Alone.
Back before I spawned two munchkins, Brock and I had our very own full sized horses on the property. Horses that we RODE. It was nice. At least I have those memories. ANYHOOSERS...
Yesterday I switched it up a bit. Thing 1 is now six years old. Six brings new gifts and responsibilities so, with a little encouragement from me, Thing 1, almost entirely on his own, haltered both ponies. As I then attempted to show him the proper knot with which to tie a horse, I realized that I have failed in another one of my parental duties; the one where I teach him to tie his shoes. Whoops. Priorities. At least he can kind-of-sort-of read.
Then Thing 1 sort-of-kind-of brushed his pony, Blizzard, while Thing 2 worked the flank hair of his pony, Duke, in a daring backwards direction. After the pony coats were shiny and smoothed (by me), I gave a short yet informative tutorial on hoof cleaning while my distracted children wondered around the yard looking at toads and poking each other with sticks.
No problem. I enjoy talking to myself.
It was then time to saddle.
Thing 1 was a champion at this. He even mastered securing the cinch with a challenging-for-some-adults "butterfly knot". I was impressed. My cowboy coaching skills are clearly unparalleled.
I asked him if he wanted to bridle Blizzard. My eager student nodded yes and I went to work teaching hand position and talking about gently opening the mouth of the pony with his thumb. Naturally, I winced as the metal bit clanged into Blizzard's teeth and I quickly grabbed the headstall and said, "That's a difficult task. Let mommy do that. M'Kay?"
Then the Wild Things mounted their fine steeds and we were off for another great adventure in our natural area!
It was hot. Blizzard was tired today.
It's tough carrying a belly of that magnitude on such short legs. Just ask Santa.
Blizzard and Thing 1 lagged behind as Thing 2, the 25 year old Duke and I walked at the pace of senior citizens perusing the food at the Country Buffet.
I encouraged Thing 1 to urge his pony to move faster. Then I mocked Blizzard.
I said things like, "Are you going to let this ancient foundered pony beat you?" and "Let's go slowpoke!" and "That turtle that fell into the pond was moving faster than you!"
I was ruthless.
Did I mention that Blizzard is blind in his left eye? So that means that I was officially picking on a disabled pony. That's how I roll, folks. Everyone gets the same treatment from me.
Blizzard's partial blindness makes Thing 1 have to take extra responsibility. He knows that his pony cannot see from the left side, so he is his eyes for him. This challenge makes him a better rider! (That's what I tell myself.)
As the kids' leisurely ride entered the final turn, they were looking cool on top of their ponies in their wide brimmed hats and short sleeved shirts. Meanwhile, I was sweating bullets trudging through knee high scratchy grass in the intense Colorado sun while dragging Duke, who attempted to eat EVERY DAMNED PIECE OF THAT GRASS. Suddenly, I heard a thunderous roar of hooves on the dirt. Then the shrieking started.
It was Blizzard and my first born, galloping around the bend at Mach 10. A three foot tall blur of white hair, crazy blue eyes and plaid shirt was headed toward us like a tiny, derailed freight train straight out of Munchkinland. That fat little lazy pony, who had spooked at something in the grass, was positively hauling ass.
Like a scene right off the cutting room floor, the helter-skelter duo stormed right past Duke, Thing 2 and I. Duke finally stopped eating grass. Thing 2 acted like he was watching a movie. I held tight to the lead rope of Duke, for the safety of my three year old and yelled, repeatedly, in my best commanding man voice, "PULL BACK ON THE REINS! THE REINS!"
It was no use. Panic had kicked in and my child could not hear me. That is when I noticed that he wasn't even holding onto the reins.
Lesson 1 in horseback riding. NEVER LET GO OF THE REINS.
Blizzard swerved right, spun like a finely tuned reining horse and bolted left. Thing 1 was blind with fear, losing muscle control, going boneless and still screaming. My constant urging to "GRAB THE REINS!" was, once again, like talking into the wind.
Just like every other day of my life as a mother.
Duke casually ate more grass. Thing 2's hat fell off.
Then Blizzard took a swift right through a bush and his rider "dismounted" left into the tall grass. Then the adrenaline charged pony kept running.
My embarrassed, frightened, defeated child stood up. He was clearly physically fine so I did what any
I yelled, "Nice job! Now go catch your pony!"
That was when Thing 1 ran toward his pony wailing like an angry, dying cat. It was a combination of moaning, bawling and howling at Volume 11. It was super surprising that the flight instinctual pony kept galloping away.
I bellowed, "STOP! Forget it! I'll get your pony- you get your hat!"
Then Thing 2 realized that he lost his hat too and started crying. Jeebus. All the while, our little half-blind pony was running away from us though the grassy meadow. Our natural area is surrounded by three busy roads, one of which is the interstate. All I could think of was my beloved vision impaired pony running into traffic. No. JUST NO.
Thankfully, I quickly captured Blizzard when he realized that I was holding onto his buddy, Duke. Thing 1 pulled himself together, cowboyed up, mounted his pony and rode him home, all without complaint. And I, for the 25th time, showed my child three different ways to stop a runaway horse, all of which required HOLDING ONTO THE REINS.
I also assured him that everyone who has spent a solid amount of time in the saddle has landed in the dirt a time or two.
When we arrived home, Thing 1 helped me unsaddle and both kids helped me clean the pen. I guess sometimes all you need is a little trauma to get perspective.
All in all, I think that "Pony Day's" lesson was far greater than the damage.
It's all part of growing up cowboy.
Good Lawd, I need a "Spa Day".
Peace, Love and Holding Onto the Reins,
What lessons did you learn or teach today?
And will someone PLEASE show my kid how to tie his shoes?