It's no secret that we here at the Smith household LOVE animals. The female Smiths love animals more than the outnumbered male Smith. (Poor Jeff...the only other males in the house are Ace and Marty, and they don't help his side a bit!)
Until recently, the girls were riding Boquet, the horse I grew up riding. Boquet was a fireball when I rode her...she dumped me in the street or took off running for the hills with me on more than one occasion. But the years were good to her; she mellowed out, lost a few teeth, and moved down here with my parents five years ago ready to walk slowly around the arena with Emma and Grace on her back.
My mom had been giving the girls lessons on Boquet since we moved here when they were two years old. It started with them holding the horn and sitting on her, and ended about two months ago with Emma and Grace navigating Boquet like a pro. (Ok...Emma navigates like a pro. Grace WANTS to like horses as much as Emma does, but gets easily distracted during a lesson. "Is that a butterfly over there? Can we go to SoupPlantation for dinner?)
Things were going smoothly until about two months ago...Boquet died. My mom and Megan went up to the ranch, and there she was, in the middle of the pasture, in horrible pain. They waited with her until the vet came...Megan braided her mane, and they talked to her and thanked her for all of her years of lessons. The vet came and put her down, and my mom and Megan both said they had never been so relieved. Poor old girl! Boquet was 36 years old...unheard of for a horse.
When my mom and Megan came home, we all knew it was time to tell the girls. The girls haven't had to deal with death in a big way. We told Grace first, and Grace just put her little forheard onto the counter in front of her and closed her eyes. Seconds later, she opened them, and said that at least Boquet was in Heaven. (Remember, she's my little spiritual gal!)
Later, when Emma came inside from playing, we told her. I have never seen her more upset. Her face turned a multitude of splotchy colors. She went into her room and cried until there was nothing left. My little Emma, who never misses a cuddle or a snug, didn't want to talk to anyone.
Two months later, life had gone on, but Emma was still having major horse-missing episodes. She would get very quiet, very sad, and tear up. Any horse reminded her of Boquet. We decided we should get her back on a horse.
My mom is the best horse-lesson-giver in the universe, but without a kid-friendly horse around, we had a teacher but no horse. I decided to look into lessons. Around the same time, Megan got a horse, which just made Emma more determined to ride. When I went to the ranch where Megan was keeping her horse and checked on lessons (some of the most affordable in the area) I found out that they were going to be around $30.00 a lesson. Multiplied by 2 (for twins), 60.00 a week. Multiply by 4 weeks in a month....Yikes! For both girls to ride once a week, it would cost 240.00.
I decided to look into buying a pony or a horse. I thought, "I'll just research it for now, and talk to Jeff about it." Jeff was surprisingly open-minded, and although he wasn't completely sold on the idea, he went with us on a Saturday to go visit Gypsi.
Any smart person knows that if you VISIT a litter of puppies, or if you VISIT the pound "just to look," it always ends badly. You never leave without a puppy/dog/cat/and in this instance, a PONY.
Gypsi is seven years old. She's tall enough for a small adult to ride, and gentle enough for the girls to ride. Her trot and canter have some "get up and go"....she's not one of those slow, boring ponies.
We are in love with her!
Now, after school, Megan, the girls, and I all go to the ranch and brush, lunge, and ride. Megan's horse is named Tex...he is tall and polite. If he were a human, he'd be a Southern gentleman!
When we are done, we all get into my truck and head home. We talk and laugh and drive through the creek that seperates Murrieta (city) from Murrieta (country). I'm having an absolute BLAST, and who knew? Six months ago, if you had told me I'd put on a pair of my mom's old boots and get dirty and horse hairy, I would have told you that you were crazy. But watching my girls fall in love with little Gypsi, and being outside, and looking into her big pony eyes when she sees us coming with our pockets full of carrots...it's the most fun I've had in a long time!
The coolest type of surprise is when you surprise yourself!