Neu Perspectives

A Letter to My Child’s Horse

a child's horse

As a parent, giving your favorite horse to your child isn’t that hard after all.

You’ll never read this, and I’m not sure if you’d understand even if I spoke it out loud. But I want to say “thanks.”

You aren’t terribly fancy — a crossbred mare that I found on Craigslist. I bought you as a long-term project to eventually sell. As we traveled down the trail, worked on maneuvers and learned and matured together, I knew you were special. After several years of training, mistakes on my part and forgiveness on yours, we won our first buckle in the bridle. I told myself, “It’s going to take an awful lot for me to ever give her up.” 

a child's horse
The joy between a good horse and a child is priceless.
Photo by Kelli Neubert

We had our fun and adventures and made many memories together. You ended up on the back burner as my life revved up and burned at full force. As you know, a little girl came into our lives and changed some things for both of us. You smoothly packed her and I around in my largest saddle because we had work to do, and no other way to do it. 

And now? Our large saddle has been replaced by her tiny saddle on your back. I’m sure you could tell I was slightly nervous the first time it happened, but you were spot on and filled in beautifully. Each day I watch her gain confidence and strength in her mind and body, as she completes tasks atop your back and covers the country.   

I see you keep her out of trouble while we rope or work or work cows. It’s often a thankless job, as she’d like for you to go faster and you’re wise enough to know she’s not ready. No matter how much she kicks, you never pin your ears or wring your tail. You just absorb the pesky swats and act as though you don’t feel anything. She doesn’t have the timing in her hands to really teach you anything besides bad habits. Yet you maintain your honesty and happily stay between the reins. Your careful feet avoid hers while she “brushes” you. And your easy way of traveling never waivers, whatever comes your way. 

Thank you for letting her lope around our arena 40,000 times. The grin it generates on her little cheeks is unmatched by anything else. Thank you for shutting down any motion when you feel her get off balance. It means more than you’ll ever know. You’ve taught her patience, compassion, an unmatched feeling of capability and have laid a foundation of love for horses that could be easily destroyed in the wrong hands. I have a lifetime of riding with my kid to look forward to because of you. It’s truly a beautiful gift you’ve given me. 

My dear mare, I fear you’re not my horse anymore. Anytime you’re loaded in our trailer, it’s her saddle on your back rather than mine. When she draws a picture of “her” horse, it’s the paint with a long mane and tail. And I’m guessing that I’ll have to find something else to rope on down the road. But after that first ride, when she shrieked with delight as you two trotted away and she rode her first “big horse” alone, I realized that it wasn’t that hard to give you up after all. 

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