We don't ride horses in our family, we play football, baseball and basketball and lots of it. Deciding to get Brandt involved with horses was really out of desperation, this child just didn't want to do what we had in mind for him. I watched helplessly as he became angry, pouty and sullen. We would sign him up for every sport under the sun, he would excel, but he found no joy in it. When I mentioned horses to my hubby, he thought I had lost my mind, but agreed. When I mentioned horses to Brandt, he cautiously agreed to try. So we started lessons, it was obvious that Brandt loved it but taking the step of buying a horse is huge and he was happy to ride the stables "lesson horses". Then came Shona.
Shona is the horse that every little boy should have, she's patient, kind and old. I actually bought Shona without ever laying eyes on her, not even a picture. I was a little disappointed when I met her. It was dead of winter, she was wet, muddy, overweight, very fuzzy and didn't have much of a tail. Her color was "boring sorrel". I don't really know what I had in mind, but she wasn't it. How sadly mistaken I was. Brandt's instructor and I agreed that he would know nothing of Shona till she had completely checked her out and the horse passed her "bomb proof kid's horse" test. We thought this would take about two weeks.
Meanwhile Brandt kept with his lessons. It took about three days for him to notice the sad, lonely horse in the stall. Immediately the questions started, who's horse is this? Why haven't they brushed her? She looks sad, can I brush her? I bet she likes carrots, I'm bringing her carrots tomorrow. I wish I had a horse that nice, I love her blaze and socks. The next day Brandt wanted to go to the barn even though he didn't have a lesson. He walked right up to that mangy mess, haltered her, brushed her and finally fed her the carrots he brought just for her. When I came back to pick him up an hour later, Shona looked like a new horse. She was beautiful, and Brandt was absolutely smitten. The secret couldn't be kept any longer, the next day we told Brandt that Shona was his. The joy on his little face was priceless, he was in love with a 1200 pound animal and he was out to be the best horse owner ever. Books were bought, he spent time googling horse care, hours were spent riding and grooming. Brandt fell in love with a furry girl and Shona fell in love with a smelly boy.
Watching my boy fall in love with a horse has been sweet and strange, I knew he would like her, but love her, I didn't really expect. Brandt found his niche...finally. I love to see his dusty boots in the garage and his cowboy hat on the shelf. It makes me feel proud to see him patiently brush Shona, making sure to spray her down with fly spray, but taking care not to get it into her eyes. He picks out her hoofs and braids her mane. He's careful not to push her too hard, because she is "his old girl" and he doesn't want her to feel sore. His conversations with her are one sided it seems until he walks away and she is quick on his heels nudging at his back. His tack is immaculate, her water always fresh. Watching Brandt ride Shona is like watching two people dance, their timing is perfect and they just fit together. I love Shona too, I am so grateful that she is willing to allow a 90 pound boy tell her what to do, when to do it and how fast. I really never thought of horses as giving, but they are, Shona has given my boy pure joy and confidence that I don't think he would have found any other way. Brandt is a lucky boy to have his own horse, and I really think he understands that. Why else would he spend the time he does making sure she is comfortable and happy. I think she's grateful, I see it when she hears his voice, looks up, and trots to the gate to meet her boy. No grass is sweeter to her than Brandt. I don't know how much Shona truly understands about love, but it sure seems to me that Brandt means the world to her and I know without a doubt that us two girls share his sweet, tender little man heart.
As mother's we all hope our children find joy in what they do, but like most mother's I often decide what that will be. Letting Brandt be Brandt wasn't easy, and it should have been. I've realized that lessons can be learned anywhere and from anyone, even horses can teach us a little about life. I cry when I think about the fact that Shona will leave Brandt someday, what will he do? He will be so heartbroken, but the great thing is that Shona has given Brandt a love for her fellow equines. She has started something that I am sure will be part of his life forever. And if for some reason he grows up and isn't able to have a horse, his memories will be priceless and he'll have the wisdom to let his own children be unique and maybe just maybe that'll have something to do with a horse.