Best. Summer. Ever. – Episode 5: Horsemanship lessons

After our horse-riding adventure at the ocean earlier in the year, we promised Mara we would get her into some riding lessons as soon as we could. Angela found a beginning program through the City of Redmond at Farrel-McWhirter Park; two Saturday mornings in early June. When we arrived a few minutes late (because I drove directly to the right place but thought I hadn’t, and so drove out and around for fifteen minutes trying to find another entrance to the park, before finally realizing we must have been in the right place the first time), we found a very young woman in the barn, a teenaged girl I would say, flipping through a large book of horse breeds and summarizing them for the three or four students, all girls Mara’s age or a bit younger, who were seated on benches around a table with her. Having instructed children Mara’s age in the ring many years ago, I thought this was a sure way to bore the hell out of potentially eager learners, but I kept my mouth shut and took Millie off to visit the farm animals. In time, the students got a chance to curry comb their assigned horses, pick their hooves, cinch up the latigo and mount up. Mara did beautifully. She was calm and confident, which is not always what happens when you put human young on top of animals of this size. The muscles rippling under them, the foreign movements, the alien will between them and the earth — well, it scares some kids into paralysis or tears. Mara used her reigns the way she was told, and before the end of the first two-hour session she was steering Breezy, a chestnut mare, in more-or-less circles in the ring. Later in the summer, Mara attended a week-long horse camp with her buddy Silas in Poulsbo.

Mara learns to get the horse to hoist the leg for hoof-picking.

Mara learns to get the horse to hoist the leg for hoof-picking.

Millie watches Breezy and Mara. Breezy watches Millie. Mara saddles up.

Millie watches Breezy and Mara. Breezy watches Millie. Mara saddles up, with help from a truly inspirational staff member.

Mara and Breezy in the paddock.

Mara and Breezy in the paddock.

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