by SHANNON VENEGAS,
Every little girl wishes for a pony. They cross their fingers and beg mom and dad. Then they write countless letters to Santa every Christmas in hopes of a bushy-tailed little horse to show up under the Christmas tree.
Most, however, find a furry little horse head on top of a wooden stick.
My 3-year-old daughter Isabella, however, is very lucky. This summer, she got her first horse. Yes, a “real horse,” I tell everyone who inevitably asks.
We were blessed with the gift of an older miniature horse named Monte. Belle of course calls him her “pony” (I decided not to waste my time explaining to a toddler the difference between a pony and miniature horse. To us, he is her pony).
I promised myself if I took the summer off school I would have more time to spend with my own horse to start preparing him for showing next year.
However, I also found myself drawn to this little creature with a face so cute, you couldn’t help but smother it with kisses. Even the full-grown women at the barn were jealous — “pony envy,” one lady called it.
I spent half the summer trying to track down a saddle that would fit him without having to special order it. Surprisingly, many people were reluctant to part with the few I could find in the Waukesha area. They are fairly rare, I guess.
I finally found one a friend was willing to sell for $50 (what a deal) and had a bridle and halter custom made by a friend.
When we finally started trotting (faster than a walk) after a few months, my daughter — always the fearless one — could not get enough. One day, she finally got down on the ground, grabbed the lead rope from me and decided she wanted to trot him around herself.
She’d go running ahead, dragging Monte behind her, and he just followed along, picking up a little trot. Then she would, inevitably, get the lead rope tangled in his legs and try to pull it out, finally figuring out how to untangle it. He would just stand there like a little saint!
The best moments, however, were spent cleaning out his paddock. While I cleaned his “droppings,” Belle would cling to him, carrying around his bucket of salt and minerals, trying to get him to eat his “vitamins.”
Then other times she would just stand there, leaning her head against his belly, soaking up the sun. Of course, I also had to stop and soak up the sun, along with this moment of calm and motherhood bliss.
I found myself looking forward to these little outings: Monte meeting us at the gate, immediately knowing he would get treats no matter how much riding was involved; Belle always wanting to clean out his feet first with her sparkly hoof pick; and Belle’s determination to use the mounting steps to get on him all by herself.
I understand now why my mom took a break from riding while she raised us. It was so much fun for her to enjoy our own little riding moments. She was able to sit back and observe the joy and fear (watching your little ones jump on a horse is always scary) and excitement that the girls in my family have always experienced from riding.
That part of the day when we went to play with Monte became the highlight of my summer, better than any festivals or vacations we took. It was literally the “little” moments that counted.
I think that’s what people are missing right now in their lives. We are so busy, so full of big events, we miss the little things that count, the little things people used to have more time to enjoy. Without Internet, TV, Facebook and Twitter, they were able to catch those rare pieces of time, the ones that make us stop and thank God we are alive.