Riding Lessons and More in Central Virginia

Sunday, March 6, 2011

You Say It's Your Birthday

February's birthday girl provided a wonderful portrait of her mount.

The washrack became a sidewalk chalk exhibit yesterday.

In the span of three Saturdays, EKF hosted more than thirty pony partiers to celebrate birthdays! The entire team, two- and four-legged, jumps into action for these busy events. The sheep are corralled so they can be seen, touched, fed, scratched, and heard; the bunnies allow themselves to be brought out and patted by many small hands; Ginger, Krispy Kreme, and Misty patiently stand to be brushed by little party guests, then amble gently under saddle; and the greatly-appreciated human helpers do their best to distribute oat bar treats, guard against tiny toes slipping under hooves, and guide the new riders' trips around and around the ring.

Pony parties require quite a bit of planning beforehand, and the ability to remain calm and cheerful amidst the fast-moving swirl of excited elementary school kids (and their sometimes slightly-anxious parents and grandparents)! They might represent, though, the purest form of what I do: helping people connect with and enjoy horses, other animals, and the outdoors. The birthday child is confident and knows the spotlight is on; he or she high-fives lowly pedestrian friends waiting their turn at the gate. The pony's initial steps provoke a clutch at the saddle from most guests, but then a giggle. One shy child is reluctant to come forward, but quietly agrees to swing on; with a few prompts from the helper walking alongside, he or she tentatively pats the pony's neck, then buries nervous fingers in the warm, shaggy fur, and - looking up - smiles!