Valerie updates our Equestrian News, 9/28/08:

Our journey towards equestrianism has been rocky. When the twins were about 3, I bought a nice little gray pony mare, and I led both of them around on her back. They were clearly too little to do anything independent. It wasn't uncommon for me to give the kids rides up with me on my horse. I got a "buddy saddle" which fastens on behind my saddle, with stirrups and a handle, and Jocelyn rode behind me on trail rides a couple of times. Sadly, the little pony developed a vision problem which rendered her unmanageable and she had to go.

About two years ago, I bought Ali, a very elderly large pony, almost a horse, who was very calm and gentle. He was also very thin, and I had the vet to see to his teeth and give me advice on how to get him in condition. He was sedated to permit the vet to work on his teeth, had a bad reaction to the drug, and died. (Fortunately the children were in preschool and did not witness the collapse.)

Perry developed no interest in equines at all and doesn't even like being led around.

Eventually, I found another pony, Clover, a mare, very pretty and sweet. She was smaller than Ali, and younger too. But for unknown reasons, Jocelyn, at six, was not very interested. She didn't want to go to the barn when I suggested it, and she wouldn't take the reins and try to learn to ride independently. Eventually, I gave up and advertised the pony for sale. A nearby stable owner asked to take the pony on trial, and I agreed, but the potential sale fell through and I got the pony back. Jocelyn was glad. She said she didn't WANT to sell the pony, and, sure enough, she started to want to go to the barn and she was willing to take the reins and learn to ride.

In September, we took our first trail ride. Judy came along at the beginning, to walk the pony along the street just in case, but left us when we got into the woods. We walked the whole way, and the pony behaved herself. Jocelyn enjoyed it very much and was excited about having gone on a real ride with me. I was very happy to think that she and I could actually ride together.

Today we had a bit of a setback. We've had 5 inches of rain in the last few days, and when we tried to go out in the woods, there were large puddles which the pony flatly refused to go through. She went around one of them but refused to cross another. We turned back. Jocelyn says the pony cantered a little (I didn't see this and I kind of doubt it), and it scared her. Jocelyn was upset and didn't want even to ride back to the barn along the road. She had been unnerved by the pony's balking and going fast and also felt she wasn't really in control when we walked along the street. We both dismounted in the driveway at the trailhead and I led both the animals home and Jocelyn walked along with us. I'm hoping this is only temporary and Jocelyn will recover her nerve when we try again on a drier day with some assistance along the road. She says that's right.

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