For the past three years or so Annabelle and I have enjoyed a wonderful but mainly solitary enjoyment of our mutual horse obsession. We have spent days riding the trails of the Boise Foothills, practicing our reining maneuvers in one arena or another, or traveling to horse shows near and far together.
The men in our family spent those same hours flying around the valley in small airplanes, playing guitar, or just hanging out at home.
That all changed yesterday.
For the past couple of weekends, actually, when Annabelle and I made the drive to Kuna to ride our horses, Batman has chosen to come along with us rather than stay home with daddy. In a surprising turn of events he has chosen to ride Grumpy, all by himself, trotting and even attempting a lope now and then, cruising around the indoor arena in random patterns and weaving in and out of the unpredictable traffic that is typical in a busy reining barn.
Last week Batman complained that Grumpy was not trotting enough. He was frustrated that he kicked and kicked and Grumpy walked and walked. When we went to ride for the second day in a row last Sunday, my manly little boy was so desperate for speed control that he elected to use Annabelle’s spurs.
Her PINK spurs.
That was all well and good until we arrived at the barn to find a local trainer and two clients doing some work in the arena. A male trainer and his two male clients, actually. Batman sat down in the dirt outside the gate and demanded that I take his spurs off.
He WAS NOT riding in pink spurs in front of other boys.
By the by, a conversation was started with the other boys in the arena. Batman admitted that he had been wearing spurs but had taken them off outside the arena because they were pink. When his new friends didn’t seem taken aback by the color of his training aides, he wanted them back on.
And a whole new relationship was born.
Batman + Grumpy + (a little) Speed = Nirvana.
And then the lobbying stated. Batman wanted his own (non-pink) spurs. Immediately. We didn’t have time to stop to get spurs that day, but later in the week I pulled into the local tack store on my way to the barn and picked out a nice pair of youth spurs and some tooled straps.
Batman was beside himself with excitement when he got home from school that afternoon, and he couldn’t wait to try them out. Yesterday we finally got the chance.
We loaded up the horses and headed to Eagle Island State Park for a nice long ride. It was to be Batman’s first-ever real trail ride where he was not being led on Reno by me on another horse, and I was hoping it would go smoothly.
We got saddled and mounted up with no problems. I thought the new spurs looked very professional.
We rode to the small mountain of sand and gravel on the north side of the park, and the kids climbed their horses to the top to pose for photographs.
Batman stood patiently for his pictures, although I knew he’d really rather be using his new spurs to trot Grumpy down the trail.
We had a wonderful ride, looping around the entire park for a nearly two hour ride. Annabelle kept exclaiming “Mom! This is so much fun!!”
Batman concurred, explaining excitedly that he found it so much more enjoyable to ride when he “was steering, instead of just being led. It is much more fun to be in charge of your own horse!”
As for me, I just smiled and enjoyed the view from my position in the back of the pack.
Near the end of the ride we stopped in a big grassy meadow, and the kids trotted and loped around in circles, performing a semblance of the Short-Stirrup reining pattern that Annabelle has had memorized since she was four, only this time in a “pairs” formation.
We were all frozen, but grinning ear-to-ear when we got back to the trailer.
Something tells me that my riding program will never be quite the same again.