Mother & Daughter
I think this question is one of the most common I get on my website. So today’s blog is all about answering it! First, let me just say that I know ALL about really, really, REALLY wanting a horse. I’ve been there. That said, I also understand the concern parents might have about getting their child a horse of his or her own.
As a child asking your parents for a horse, you need to remember what I said in the “Horse care, beware!” blog (maybe go back and read it if you haven’t). Horses are expensive, time-consuming, even potentially dangerous. In addition, how do your parents know that tomorrow you won’t wake up and decide that now you’re into tennis–or dancing, or art, or swimming–instead of horses?
So, if you really want to convince your parents to get you a horse, you need to do the following things (Of course, these pointers also apply if you just want to take riding lessons or work at a barn and your parents still aren’t interested):
1. Find out exactly why they don’t want to get you a horse. Is it because it’s too expensive? Is it because they are worried you won’t take good care of it? Is it because you have never even ridden before and they aren’t convinced that you’ll stick with riding? Is it because they are worried you will get injured? It’s really important when you ask your parents why, that you listen very closely and without any eye-rolling or arguing or sighing. You have to actually hear what they are saying–they want to be understood just as much as you do. Parents reading this, make sure you are honest and open with your child when he or she approaches you. Don’t be afraid to really discuss the concerns you have!
2. Once you know what their concerns are, find out ways to address those concerns. If the concern is money, brainstorm some ideas of how you could earn some money to help out. Or consider leasing a horse first (much less expensive than owning your own horse). If the concern is safety, look at safety gear together (liking riding vests) and talk about what things you could all do to minimize the risk involved with riding. If it’s because they aren’t sure you’ll stick with riding, make an agreement on how long you would need to take lessons before they will reconsider getting a horse–maybe weekly lessons for two years? Stay calm and honestly look at their concerns. Parents, you can help out this process by considering why your son or daughter wants so badly to be involved with horses, and what you would need to feel comfortable with the idea.
3. Consider taking it in steps. Instead of starting out asking for a horse, start with asking for weekly riding lessons. If these go well, and you are still interested, then you can talk with your parents about leasing a horse. If the lease goes well, then you can move onto buying a horse. In this way, you’ll show your parents how you are able to care for a horse and are committed to owning your own horse. For parents, be open to talking about possible compromises, like leasing. Clearly, this subject is important to your child. And here’s a chance for great lessons on planning, negotiation, responsibility, creativity and initiative!
Kids, remember that your parents aren’t just out to make your lives miserable by refusing to get you a horse. They want what’s best for you, and sometimes they just aren’t able to get you everything you want just because you want it. That doesn’t mean they don’t want you to be happy! If you work with them, often you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve together. So good luck, and here’s to a fabulous cooperation between children and their parents–and lots of happy ponies!
My mom is the reason my horse dreams come true. She was there to remind me breathing is a really good thing to do when show jumping at my first show ever, and she was there, in the pouring rain, to cheer me on in the first event I ever won with Noah. She was there when I fell in love with that chestnut trouble maker, and she was there to hug me while I cried in sheer frustration after the worst clinic with him in the history of riding. I don’t know how my mom did it, but I sure hope I can figure it out. She was the reason that I can look back with a grin on that summer bike ride so many years ago, when I fed a horse along the trail a carrot and told her some day I’d have a horse of my own. She made that day dream a reality.
In honor of mother’s day, here are some ideas of fun mother-daughter horsey activities. I’ve included some every-day ones, as well as some great places to visit around the US, just in case you’re traveling and need a quick horse fix. This list is just a few I thought up–please feel free to add to it!!
1. Read “Black Beauty” together. Some of my fondest memories of childhood are the stories my mom would read to me, our cat curled up on her lap as she painted pictures with words. “Black Beauty” is one of the classic horse stories, up there with “My Friend Flicka,” and far easier to read. There is a picture-book version and the full chapter book. Don’t forget a few tissues for poor Ginger’s chapter… Read more on A mother’s day…
“Sweetie, I think you need to sit deeper in the saddle,” her mother offered.
The pigtails whipped around as the girl turned. “I know what I’m doing, mom.”
I gestured the girl over to me. “Hey there. Captain’s getting a bit confused, huh? He needs you to straighten up really tall and just park your butt in the saddle when you ask him to canter. If you don’t sit deep and you keep posting, you’re just telling him to trot fast, okay?”
The girl nodded enthusiastically. “Okay! Let me try it again.”
Now this whole exchange hardly seems fair. The mother was right, but factualness in her answer couldn’t change one important thing: the fact that she was a mother. For some reason, hearing something from a coach versus hearing something from a parent for some kids is the difference between swallowing a teaspoon of sugar and swallowing an onion. Whole.
Riding costs chucks of time, money and energy. Of all the sports a youngster could start, I figured it probably only outranks curling in the chances of it earning her a scholarship to college (but, it turns out I’m wrong! Check out my new scholarship blog post). And as parents likely notice, riding also puts their child in direct partnership with a very large and sometimes exceedingly foolish animal.
So why should you let your daughter ride?
Honestly, it is for those exact reasons listed above that I think anyone vaguely interested in riding should dive right in. Here’s why.