As some of you may know, I am a child-hating curmudgeon.
Okay, that's hyperbole. I admit it. I don't actually hate children. (They're just like people, only smaller.) It's just that I don't understand
children. I'm the youngest child in my family, and I didn't have one of those childhoods with younger cousins running around or anything like that. I never dealt with people younger than me, so I basically am just perplexed by them. I have no idea how to deal with kids, and since the bulk of my experience with kids is neighbor children shouting "HI!" at me and then following it up with a stream of undecipherable gibberish, I find the idea of being around children kind of intimidating.
Which is why it's a little odd that I harbor a secret dream to start up a horsemanship program for kids. It all stems from that same basic instinct that adults have to live vicariously through their children, except that I don't want to have children (sure, they can visit, but I want to be able to send them home again), so I want to live vicariously through other people's children. I'd love to see kids have the opportunities that I didn't. (So, logically speaking, I should be starting a mounted languages-music-and-baseball program.) And possibly, I've watched too many episodes of The Saddle Club
Yes, I know I'm nearly 30. No, I don't intend to stop watching The Saddle Club
I like to keep an eye on craigslist and Dreamhorse to see what sort of horses are selling and what prices people are asking. Lately there have been a lot of lovely little ponies selling for a song, and I can't help but think how nice it would be to gather them up in one place and teach children to ride on them. (I also have a secret plan to train BLM burros to be riding mounts for children. If I were rich enough to actually implement any of my plans, my life would become a constant series of hilarious follies suitable for reality television.) Normally, the urge to do insane things like teaching kids to ride horses -- which presumably I would do this a good ten or twenty years down the road, when I've actually turned myself
into a good rider -- isn't very overpowering. But then I see something like this.
I shot photos at an equine playday recently at my local fairgrounds, and this young lady was riding this cute little pony. And when it came to the gaming section, the pony made it clear that he was familiar with running barrels, and that he was having none of it. He started to... misbehave. He tried to reinforce every stereotype about ponies ever.
His young rider just took it slow around the barrels, kept her cool, kept her seat, and smiled. Instead of losing her temper, she just held her ground and grinned. I'm not sure if she's a member of our local Pony Club, but I wouldn't be surprised. I would love to one day help create riders like this one, the way that my own riding instructor -- who coaches the local Pony Club -- does now.
And this girl wasn't the only whippersnapper out there riding up a storm, either.
I believe it was mentioned that this rider is only five. Her horse appears to be saint-like. They tackled the flat classes and barrels like they'd been doing it all their lives, which for the rider just isn't a very long time. I do wish her helmet was properly fitted and adjusted, though. See? I have maternal instincts after all.
This poor rider did not have a good day -- her pony bolted with her aboard and there was a collision with a fence involved -- but they were still a pretty adorable pair.
So I'm prepared to admit it.
I like kids.
I am prepared to admit to also liking teens, pre-teens, tweens, and other things that end in "eens." (Maureens?)
And yes, I DO believe the children are our future! I BELIEVE IT!
And I think it's safe to say that the future is pretty photogenic.
And also colorful.
Anyway, I guess all that's left at this point is to "teach them well and let them lead the way," which is where I hope to one day come into the equation. Because obviously, they need me. It's not like they're doing perfectly well without my intervention. If I wasn't there to help them, what would they do with themselves? I mean, besides win ribbons and have a good time and stuff.
Going to shows and playdays and whatnot, I've seen a lot of kids who get into the ring and get that fierce and scary look on their faces that means they aren't entirely having a good time. (That was totally me as a child. I feel their intensely-concentrating pain.) I've also seen a lot of kids who are in the ring because their parents put them there, not because they're particularly excited for -- or ready for -- climbing onto the back of an animal. But I figure if you put them in the ring, and things don't go exactly as they (or you) planned, and they still come out of it looking like this rider? Then maybe the kids are alright, after all.