Pass it on.
Last week something kinda cool happened while I was at the barn.
The barn that I am at right now is a public barn; often families with little children walk though to look at the horses. My horse has actually acquired a small fan club. As I was untacking after a ride on New Years Eve, I saw a couple of grandparents walking with their grandchildren through the barn.
“Do you want to come and meet him?” I asked them. The girls quickly ran over. My horse has grown to understand his role in these situations: he is calm, gentle, and super sweet. I gave the girls treats to feed him. Their grandparents thanked me and said that they would let me finish putting him away. But one of the little girls told my horse that she loved him before walking away.
I put him back in his stall and saw the family again. I walked over to the girl who had confessed her love to my horse. “Hey,” I said. “Can you do me a favor? I need help making him a snack.”
She jumped at the opportunity. “YES!” As we walked over to get his supplements, she grabbed my hand. “You’re my friend,” she said firmly.
“Okay,” I told her, letting her hold my hand. I usually don’t like being touched, but this wasn’t too horrible. “I don’t have a lot of friends, but I guess you seem cool.” Then I added, “And I guess you can be my horse’s friend too.”
I taught her and her sister how to scoop the rice bran, then add water, and add in the supplements. She was proud to stir it all up, and her sister happily dumped it in my horse’s feeder.
“Do you need help putting this away?” she asked, still clinging to the bucket.
“Sure,” I told her. We walked back to my tackroom, and she placed the feed bucket back where she found it.
Her grandparents, who had been following us this whole time, asking questions about my horse, told her that it was time to leave, and thanked me for showing her around.
Without warning, the little human wrapped her arms around my legs and gave me a big hug. “Bye friend!” she said. By the smile on her face, I could tell that I made her day, but she will never know that she made mine too.
Stay strong and be kind, because you never know what little girl is out there hoping that one day she will grow up to be just like you. Equestrians are a dying breed, so if you meet a kid that loves horses, do whatever you can to encourage them to chase that passion. We were all those little kids, willing to do anything just to pet a horse. So pass it on.