This week we lived the dream of every horsie parent: we bought a pony for our son, Wesley?s, 4-year-old birthday.
Heather had been looking for a pony for months upon months, and for her it had turned in to a warm and fuzzy version of the Bataan death march. The crippled, the crazy and the horrifically misguided all found their way into her path?and they were each sadly unsuitable.
The hardest part was turning off the natural tendency of any horseperson to become far too emotional in the face of such the tiny cuteness. But we found it easier to rule out the cute-but-still-clearly-devil-spawn ponies than the sad oldsters who needed a home.
We had no issue with taking on an older pony, even one requiring special care and maintenance, but finding one that wasn?t crippled (and basically useless except as a lawn ornament) proved impossible. But they were heart-breaking?ancient ponies who had devoted their lives to children and families facing an uncertain future. Of course, in some cases, the humane thing to do was for their current families to euthanize them, but people look at you as if you're ax murderer if you make such a suggestion after you?ve watched their 30-plus-year-old pony hobbling about.
Heather has had several people express surprise that she, a horse professional who has made many matches between horses and riders over the years, should struggle so mightily with finding a pony for our son. But it was her expertise at this exercise that was her problem: She know exactly how wrong it can all go, and she wanted to stack the deck in our favor as much as possible. She doesn't have the benefit of ignorance, so she was very, very picky.
A big reason for being extremely picky about the pony is that we have a son, not a daughter, and a relatively cautious son at that. We realize that the statistics are not in our favor that he'll be a rider, and since He's never been one of those ?let-it-all-hang-out? kids, we knew if I scare him at this point, he might walk away from riding forever. So we wanted small and multipurpose.
Last week Heather felt confident, from talking to the knowledgeable owner and seeing a lengthy video, that she?d found the right one. So confident that last Sunday she hitched up the trailer, and she and Wesley drove more than five hours, to the northern part of California, to try and to bring home Little Bit.
He's 9.3 hands tall, and he drives, does a few tricks and plays a lot of ground games, such as climbing on boxes and walking over teeter-totters. Wesley loved him immediately, and every day when he comes home from pre-school we wants to ?see my pony.?
Little Bit is proving to be an exemplary member of our human and equine family, and Wesley has been enjoying his time with him. So far He's spent as much time leading him around and playing with him as actually riding him, and He's preferring to ride bareback, not with his saddle. We're hoping that this is just the beginning of a long relationship, and we're trying to make sure that whatever he wants to do with his pony is his decision to make.
We're attempting not to become too invested in what Wesley?s future may or may not hold with horses. Of course we'd love it to be something we can share as a family, since riding and competing is at the center of our lives. But if all he ever gains is an appreciation for the animals and the country lifestyle, that?ll be enough for us.
Little Bit may be the last and only horse we ever buy him. But that's OK?Heather can always take up driving if we decide we can't part with him?and that's a very real possibility.