It was another gorgeous day to go for a trail ride. Packed up 7 horses and headed out to Golden Ears Provincial Park for our 2 hour horseback ride.  I was joined by 2 couples and a mother/daughter team, both of whom were celebrating their birthdays. It was Julia’s 8th birthday. Her entire riding experience to date had been a pony ride. A pony ride entails a child riding a smallish horse or pony and someone walking beside the horse leading it around an arena. Today, I was going lead Julia around the trail on a full sized horse from my own horse.

Once I got all the adults mounted, I hoisted Julia up on Kissimmee. Kiss is not a huge horse but decent sized at 14.3 hands.  Julia was a tiny little girl and her little legs barely made it to Kiss’s shoulders. I gave her the reins and instructed her to hold them while holding on to the saddle horn and then off we went. My horse, Marty has a very fast walk so Kiss frequently has to jog to catch up. Well the smile on Julia’s face went from ear to ear when Kiss jogged a little. She was obviously loving both her “independence” and the slightly higher speed. When we got to our first hill I told Julia and everyone else to hold on as the horses jogged a quicker pace up the hill. She was laughing with delight.

 

We rode up the mountain to Mike lake. At about halfway up, the terrain gets  quite steep in spots. Julia was keeping her balance extremely well.  Once we reached the lake we paused to take some pictures and a potty break for some then began our descent back down the mountain. What goes up must come down. The trip down was along the same steep path. It always seems scarier coming down than going up. I had been watching Julie and had observed how she would use her reins to slow Kiss down from time to time. She was doing a really good job. Once down the mountain and with about 20 minutes left in the ride, I asked Julia if she wanted to try riding on her own, maneuvering the horse by herself. She gave me an enthusiastic nod. I looked to her mom to make sure that she would be ok with it. She nodded and took up her position behind Julia. I could tell she seemed a bit nervous yet proud at the same time. I had total confidence in Kiss. I took the lead rope and tied it around the saddle horn. Then I turned Marty back down the trail. I instructed Julia to lightly tap Kiss with her feet and “cluck” at her. Much to her delight Kiss responded and was following right behind me. Julia was a natural. She slowed Kiss down on the downhill and sped her up occasionally to keep up with Marty. At the end of the trail ride she maneuvered Kiss right up to the hitching post.

 

What a wonderful birthday horseback trail ride for both mother and daughter.