Summer 2009 – Mission, should we choose to accept it, was to find our daughter something to do while all her friends are off on their cool holidays to e.g. Disney World, Italy, Spain, Limerick, etc. This year was dedicated to stay-cation, again, thanks to the doings of some @%$!£ bankers and property developers.
My wife and I agreed that we would not be doing something over the top this year, which we both hated to admit. Bloody hell, we would rather be somewhere where the sun was shining, jumping into a nice cool pool and get a few Caiparinha’s while the kids are enjoying themselves on the beach. And, while sitting on this wonderful bounty beach, I slowly looked at my beautiful wife, as she was drawing all the sun rays to her … sorry got carried away!
To start of the summer holiday adventures, my wife had this brilliant idea that our daughter should try horseback riding. Sounded like a great idea and how many of her mates can say they’ve been riding horses on their summer break.
So, we Googled the internet, as you do nowadays, and found not only a riding school, but an international equestrian centre – how posh is that? – just a short drive from our house. Perfect.
However, before we were going to put our daughter on a Black Beauty 8′ tall horse and placing our trust in some 20 year old horse trainer, we decided to inspect the premises. You can never be to safe when it comes to the safety our your kids.
What was meant to be a 20 minutes drive, ended up being an hour adventure trying to find the bloody place. The lady in the GPS had no idea where we were going or even anywhere close, so we were left with using a map! Of course we found the place, otherwise I wouldn’t have written a blog about 🙂
The scary bit was that the equestrian centre was located in a VERY small town called Kill!!! Not a good sign for a family friendly activity. It has to be said, Kill originates from the old Irish word Cill, which means church. When the british “visited” Ireland many years ago, they changed A LOT of the names around the country, to make them more English, allowing them to understand the place better – hence Kill.
Anyway, we finally found the place and took an un-guided tour of the centre. Nobody stopped us as we walked among all the stables, so we could probably have “borrowed” a horse without being stopped. Not that it would fit into the SUV, but I could ride it home and it could live in the garden – according to my daughter.
The premises was fairly impressive I must admit, so we signed her up for an hour. Well, €20 gets you about 40 minutes worth of riding, which is nowhere near an hour really, but a long time to bite your nails, shitting yourself if she drops off. Thankfully you could borrow a helmet, so her pretty face would be safe.
The first lesson went really well and our daughter loved it. No, she didn’t just love it. She thought it was absolutely amazing, fantastic and had a high school musical happy experience – so she started to sing! She absolutely wanted to go again.
€20 wasn’t bad, but true to the shopping spirit of our family, this adventure became a bit more expensive than we signed up to. If she was going to ride horses, then she needed ALL the equipment. My wife therefore decided that we needed get her some boots, a protective vest, pants, cover for the helmet, helmet, whip and a proper jacket. It all seemed like a good idea at the time.
Through the famous word of mouth, we found a local horse riding equipment shop in the outskirts of Kill, and this is were it went terrible wrong.
Never let your daughter who loves horses and your wife who loves to get the right gear for the kids, loose in such a shop – it’s just a bad combination. My son and I were slightly lost in the wilderness of equipment and bought a shop map so we could explore the place and find the exits if needed.
It was amazing the amount of stuff your daughter and wife can find and buy in less than 20 minutes. €150 later, we had bought all the stuff she needed (and a bit more) – she was going to be dressed like a pro. We even bought a birthday card for my wife’s niece, who’s birthday was two months away!
I just hoped that the interest would last for a few months, to get some return of investment (ROI) on the goods we acquired.
6 weeks on, and our daughter was still riding at least once a week, and she still loved it. To share the load, my wife and I would switch every second time, so we both could see her advance in her riding skills and see our little Jessie Cow-girl giggle of happiness. Every parents dream.
When it comes to raising my kids, I believe that kids need to learn from mistakes as I did – even if that means falling off the horse. Yes, you know what’s coming up next. And, when my kids say they can do something themselves, I let them try.
It was my turn and I was leading the horse (pony) as a good parent. When they had to trot, my daughter said firmly that she could do it alone and that I had to let go – so I did. It suited me fine as I was already exhausted. 5 seconds into the trot, the fecking horse started to trot faster. Panic grabbed me and I started to run after the horse, trying to keep up, running in the thick soil and horse pooh – not an easy task. There’s a reason that humans use horses – they run faster than us!
Then it happened. Like in slow motion. She started to slowly slide off the horse. Kids don’t necessarily know that they should hold on or counter move, so she landed on the ground.
Of course she got a fright and started to cry, so I picked her up to calm her down. I didn’t care about the horse, which started to run around the arena, much to the annoyance of the instructor I think.
Now, this is how tough my daughter is. She cried for about 27 seconds and then she was ready to get back up on the horse. Of course I had to have a serious chat with the horse, and had to threaten it with our labrador (who doesn’t hurt a fly) that he would bite the horses ass, if he didn’t behave.
Afterwards I tried to bribe my daughter, buying her toys, so she wouldn’t tell mummy. But, when we came home, my daughter proudly told mummy about the latest adventures. My wife gave out to me for letting go of the horse. But, but, but, our daughter said she could do it!?
She is still riding the horses and still loving it. I’m not allowed to lead her anymore, under strict orders from the instructor, my wife and my daughter. 🙂