Yes, you heard me correct. I have been riding, now, for the past fourteen years with a little passenger in the saddle. And no this riding with kids, has not been an involuntary occurrence. I ride with them until they are able to ride by themselves, voluntarily.
Just as most mothers of small children would agree, riding with the kids, beats the only other alternative; not riding at all.
A couple of minor adjustments over the years have prolonged my riding enthusiasm. The adjustments of riding tandem in the saddle is to have given birth to a smaller kid, develop a suburb sense of Ranch Wife Humor and lastly, score a larger and slick-forked (a.k.a roping) saddle.
The challenges of riding with kids are nothing in comparison to the bounty of rewards and adventure in exploring while riding horseback with kids.
The greatest concern for me, over these years riding with kids, is keeping their eyes open. The consistent slow rocking and steady clip-clop of hoof beats, the warm sun shining down and fresh air; all work cohesively to knock the rowdiest of kids out. (hint, hint!)
The trick here is nothing more than planning a timely and coordinated dismount. Praying and hoping for no closed gates along the way, for entertainment purposes, are also beneficial.
I battle the sleepy tendencies, each and every ride, with my three-year-old.
Fortunately, she loves chasing the cows and yelling, whooping, hollering. This adventure is a sure way to keep her conscious. And she is the first to volunteer to move the cows to fresh pasture.
The primary concern when riding horses with kids is safety. A mom could go on all day about safety, kids and horses.
For wordiness sake, I shall only highlight the basics here that I categorize under ‘Riding with common Sense’. (And here is a world of writing prompts that a Wyoming writer could have some fun with!)
First it behooves you to realize that there never has been, nor never will be, a bomb-proof horse. Horses are animals. They spook. They flee. They fall.
*Put a helmet on your kid. Keep in mind that it’s cool that Mom and Dad wear helmets too.
When my kids where, all, small and still taking naps, riding with them was a breeze. There was nothing handier than breastfeeding back then.
I’m sure I made a fashionable statement riding the hills, through the sage in hot pursuit of stray bovine while clutching a suckling infant. Hey! Where there is a will, there is a way! (This memory is humorous now, but wasn’t much humor seen in it then.)
Carrying extra snacks and water bottles, now, on the saddle is quite a drag; especially when dropped and then retrieved again and again.
The commitment to the cattle drive is also a nagging proposition for me, the mother. Because, once we’re out in the saddle, we are out there in the saddle for the duration. And there is no going back, no turning around until the cows are moved.
With any chore needing done; three-year-olds run out of steam. When punching cows three-year-olds get hot, they get tired, they get bored, they get cranky.
My three-year-old devised her own unique entertainment once the saddle strings ran out. She has to, “PEE-PEE, PEE-PEE, PEE-Pee!” every hundred yards.
I can’t say that I blame her, because there are bugs, rocks and soft sand beneath our feet. Her old Paint-horse doesn’t seem to mind the pit stops for fresh nibbles of grass either.
For nearly fifteen years, I have been less than efficient riding heard. I am often dubbed for retrieving the truck and the horse-trailer; on account that all gates en route remain opened.
Perhaps next spring my littlest will be ready to ride her horse, alone. I will still be near to rescue and retrieve, as I did for her older sister when her old ”Doc” would straddle and scratch his privates on every large brush he passed.
Poor old, “Doc”. I would have let him get his thrills where he could, if my daughter hadn’t protested. She reminisces now, much matured, flabbergasted that I, her mother, laughed and didn’t come to her rescue quicker. “How could I have let her ride such a grody old horse?”
“He was just itching!”
There will soon be rides when I am all alone in the saddle with no warm trickle oozing down my leg, no sleeping body in my arms, no stops to catch horny-toads and no whooping at imaginary cattle.
I do know that I’d best enjoy the solitary rides, if they ever manifest from my imagination, because one day I’ll be riding with a grand-baby in my saddle.