Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cowgirl Up

Last year we were full of confidence. We thought speed was the best. After all, why walk when you can gallop? Why ride in the barnyard when the trails beckoned with water hazards and log crossings to boot? Why hold onto the saddle horn at a full run when you weigh a whopping 61 pounds (soaking wet) and your thigh muscles are 40 pounds of that, so you can clearly hang on with your legs alone? You sorta get the picture. We'd barely hold still long enough for photos like this:

This year, although we'd never, ever admit it outside of bedtime tuck-in time whispers, we have lost our edge a little:
That's yesterday. Madeleine spent most of the afternoon sitting beside our friends' horse trailer, feeding graham crackers to her horse, who has spent the last couple of months at a trainer. So we're horse people.

But we're no chickens:

We're cowgirls. And those chickens can eat our dust. Because yesterday Madeleine got back in the saddle.

Of course she has ridden since the big accident, but she hasn't gone near Seven, the horse who threw her after being stung by a hornet as they practiced barrel racing in our back yard.

There's courage. And then there's guts.

Nine months ago, she broke both of her arms in a characteristically dramatic way (how else?). Being the parent of a severely injured daredevil who knows better than you and her team of doctors, now that's not easy. But being 8 and having little to no use of your hands for months, now that's a lot harder.

It takes time to sand off the razor sharp edges of an apparent Evil Kenevel heir. But it can be done. I'm just not sure whether the whole experience bent Maddy's spirit.

Another child rode Seven in the barrel races yesterday, took third place. So we know Maddy's competitive spirit is alive and well: she made sure everyone knew it was her horse, and that boy? He didn't know how to lean into it, or Seven would've taken him in first place. "Easy."

Speaking of hard, I thought it was hard watching her ride other (completely bomb-proof, swayback, never-going-fast) ponies at riding lessons the past season. But encouraging her to get back on Seven --even for a little walk around the rodeo grounds -- and watching her brave little 9-year-old self gut it out, now that was darn near impossible. Bock-bock-bock--bb-aah-ck.

This is how I know I am in no way prepared to be as brave as I need to be. I am sure I have the courage to put my baby back on the literal and figurative horse. And I'm sure I can hold her hand until she gallops away and denies that she ever wanted my support.
But this:

Now that I don't have the stomach for. In this rodeo arena I am the weak-kneed, lily-livered pansy who will lock her children up after wrapping them in cotton batting. Oh, please, someone stop this wagon train before my daughter gets old enough to want to sit IN THE LAP of a 16-year-old cowboy between youth rodeo events.

Oh. My. Word.

The best thing I can say about that photo is that it took my mind off the possibility of the girls getting hurt (in a horseback riding accident) ever again.

We know both of these kids: They are strong, awesome teenagers who respect adults and get good grades and treat animals and small children with care. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with them. I'm just sayin'. I knew that boy (manchild bullrider) when his favorite toy was a plunger. He preferred it to a stick pony. I know this sounds odd.

And I'm not afraid to tell that girl about that particular phase of his childhood if it will stop the public (or private) display of affection before, say, age 24.

Does everything have to go so fast?


Agent K said...

Here is an all around, hearty, Whoa Nellie!


Omigooness, I will surely die the day I see a girl of mine sitting in the lap of a cowboy!

Amydeanne said...

I"m going to have show my little monkey this post! she'll be thrilled to see another "cowgirl!"

Becca said...

when i ask my 3 year old son to get undressed for his bath and he doesn't i sometimes say "some day a woman will ask you to get undressed and you won't be able to do it fast enough..." and then I think umm do I want that? "some day, a LOOOOOONG time from now..."

Elizabeth said...

Woo Hoo for Maddy.
She's one strong cowgirl!
EVERY mom can wait till at least 25to have to witness that sort of public display of affection!
My daughters are just starting riding lessons this fall...they are 7 & 9. They'll love to see these photos...I just won't tell them about the "throwing incident"
Blessings, EJT