When one of my boys was little, he had a speech disorder and while I will not bore you with the clinical details, getting him to speak eventually was quite a journey filled with lots of tears (mine) and lots of effort and hard work (his). By three years old, he could say only a few words and string together no more than two, but one day as we drove past a stable, he said 'me ride horse' and I almost drove off the road. Once I got over the initial shock and joy of what has just transpired, I questioned him wondering whether he had really understood what had come of of his precious little mouth. He had and he was emphatic. He wanted to ride a horse and despite my fear and trepidation, if he want to and he had said so, I was going to get him on a horse.
I drove back to that very stable, interviewed the instructor and found out that there was a camp coming up for three to five-year-olds--a perfect opportunity to try the sport. Terrified on so many levels, I signed him up but at least a tiny portion of my fear dissolved when I saw the look of sheer happiness on his face the first time those tiny legs straddled that huge animal. To this day, seven and a half years later, he has the same look as soon as he is riding. The transformation never ceases to amaze me, the way he goes from goofy teenager yammering about this or that video game to confident, poised and self-controlled rider. We have been told time and again from instructors and show judges that he rides 'like an adult' and we could not be more proud of his riding achievements. Of course, when he got in the car after his lesson this evening and he told us that 'he loved the smell of manure at the barn on a Friday night,' I know he is still our boy.