The oldest kid has been part of our life for 12+ years, which means he has been around horses for 12+ years. In all those years his interest in anything involving a horse has been absolute none. He complained about having to clean stalls, feeding them, water, working on fencing, whatever it may be. Complaints were abundant, especially as he has started approaching those pre-teen years. Horses were an annoyance, a burden, and just a plain problem in his world.
After the move to Maryland, he began to lose even more interest in the things that previously brought him joy. He didn’t want to continue his journey in Scouting after 5 years. He was still enjoying gaming, but the enticing challenge wasn’t always there. School was going well, but he wasn’t enjoying it like he usually would. Finally the day came where I had enough of the “I have nothing to do” or “I don’t want to do anything” attitude. I gave him 5 days to come up with 5 things that he would like to do or try to fill up his very empty free time. If he did not have some good options by day 5, I would pick something for him. By day 5 he had come up with nothing, not even one idea. He didn’t think I was serious that I would give him something to do. I threatened with him having to take ballet lesson as a joke (no offense to you ballerinas but this kid’s dancing skills are questionable at best). I told him then of the 1 thing he would do, he would have to start taking horse riding lessons. He wasn’t happy. I refused to teach him and informed him he would be going to another barn and learning there. He complained and stomped his feet a few times, and there may have even been a tear or two, though he would never admit it.
Finally the day came and he went for his riding lesson. He was nervous, there was no question about that, but he went. Neither one of us knew or expected what would happen afterwards. The same boy who wanted absolutely nothing to do with horses was completely hooked. He fell madly in love with a horse and everything has changed. He first rode an Anglo Arab named Faith. He then start riding on a Thoroughbred named Finch. The change I saw in this boy was something that has blown me away.
The boy who hated horses suddenly couldn’t get enough of them. The boy who hated cleaning stalls, now works it into his schedule to not clean one, but all 6 of the stalls everyday. The boy who was afraid to walk up to a horse now walks taller, with his head up and in confidence in tow to work the cranky mare to her stall from the pasture. The boy who complained constantly has found love in the beauty of a horse.
Almost 2 weeks ago, while at his lesson, his trainer gave me a lead on a horse who was ready to retire from jumping. We were not looking for a horse at this time for the oldest, but decided to see what we could find out. The horse was a big one, a Clydesdale x Thoroughbred x Hackney cross. He stood tall and beautiful. His color rich, his eyes were kind. I was told he is 18 years old and retiring from a career of jumping as he wasn’t enjoying it anymore and his legs hurt afterwards, but he was great on the ground. He had jumped, done dressage, and hauled little kids around. I knew he would be perfect, and as soon I met him, my mind was made up, Zach would come live out the rest of his life at our farm.
Less than a week later, Zach came home to the farm. The kid was just getting home from school when I pulled in with him loaded in the horse trailer. The smile on that kid’s face was enough to light up the whole sky. He had his own horse. Zach has taken his time settling in, but he has done well. So well, that when it comes time to go to the pasture or back in the barn for dinner, the boy doesn’t even need a lead rope or halter, he just walks beside him, like a dear friend ready to have a chat on a friendly stroll.
Was a new horse in our plans, definitely not. Was this horse exactly what this 12 year old boy needed in his life at this time, without a doubt. We look forward to them being best friends for a very long time. Soon the kid will have the opportunity to ride his new friend so they can learn all about each other in a bond that only a boy and his horse can understand. Welcome home big Zach, you’ve made a boy into a very confident and responsible young man.
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