My girls have a lot of similarities…they are both full of energy (all.the.time), the both love to tell a story, and I think they both equally love Nutella. But, they definitely have their differences. Abigail is more mathematically inclined than Gracie. Gracie loves to read more than her little sister. Abigail can play for hours by herself (in fact, she’d rather be left to her own devices so she can wreak as much havoc as possible); Gracie usually needs a lot more attention. But, I think one of the biggest differences between the two of them is Abigail’s adventurous spirit. That little girl is afraid of very little (pit bulls are at the top of the list). Gracie is a lot more timid – she tends to over-think things and oftentimes, comes up with the worst case scenario. Abigail tends to jump in head first and ask questions later. Gracie questions everything and then tends to enter timidly, one toe at a time.
Last week, we were in Memphis visiting my sister and her family. My sister, amazing and incredible aunt that she is, arranged for Abigail to have a riding lesson with Ruby & Emmie. And because my sister is beyond amazing and incredible, because she is always kind and empathetic, she explained Gracie’s fear of riding the the riding instructor but told her that if Gracie decided she wanted to ride to include her, too.
Abigail was over the moon for days before the riding lesson – it was virtually all she could talk about. And Gracie said very little about it at all. I could tell that part of her wanted to ride but most of her was just nervous. When we got out to the barn that day, Abigail eagerly put on a pair of riding boots and a helmet. Gracie put on her boots, but with a lot more trepidation. She came up to me and whispered in my ear, “Mommy. I’ve decided I don’t want to ride. But, can I help brush the horse?” I told her that was completely fine – it was her decision and if she didn’t want to ride, she didn’t have to ride.
I can not say enough kind words about my nieces’ riding instructor, Jennifer. She was unbelievable with both the overly excited Abigail and the overly cautious Gracie. She picked out a sweet horse named Sassy for Abigail to ride. Gentle and beautiful and easy-going – the perfect horse for my 5-year-old to ride and the perfect horse for my 8-year-old to brush and pet and lead.
Gracie listened with rapt attention to everything that Jennifer said about brushing and grooming and halters and leads. She asked questions and all the while was petting and loving Sassy. It was so sweet. Jennifer said to me, “You know, I have a lot of parents who bring their children out to ride and the kids don’t want to ride because they’re scared of the horses.” I told her that Gracie LOVES horses; she’s just scared to ride – it’s something to do with the height or the motion. Jennifer looked at Gracie and told her that it’s a special thing to love horses and not ride them. She told her that horses need special attention from non-riders. Gracie just glowed – she was so afraid that since she wasn’t riding, she wouldn’t get to play with the horse. I could have kissed Jennifer at that moment!
The girls had so much fun! Gracie got to lead the horses out and help Ruby, Emmie, and Abigail get ready to ride.
Look at Ruby and Emmie go!
And look at my baby!
Gracie did finally sit on Sassy, but she was not comfortable and only stayed for a minute. Jennifer was patient with her and helped her down the instant she asked.
What a wonderful adventure for both girls! On the way home to Pensacola, I asked the girls what their favorite part of the week was. Abigail said “Riding horses!” That was no surprise! Gracie said “Playing with Sassy – brushing her and washing her and petting her!” That made my heart so happy – I’m so thankful to my sister for giving my girls such an experience!