Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How Horses Rode Away With Her Heart

From the moment our daughter first sat on a horse (during a family vacation seven years ago), her heart was forever stolen.

She was only three years old at the time and never let any of us forget the name of the horse she rode, “Sweetie Pie.”

For years she begged to ride again.   But it wasn’t until last fall we were able to make her dream come true.   God worked out every detail for the perfect location and horse trainer.   He even had the perfect horse for her to ride knowing she was dealing with many internal fears.  

Turning 10 was a huge change and adjustment for our girl.   She is facing all the challenges that come with no longer being a little girl, but still being too young to be a big girl.  Pre-teen years are not really fun for the ever changing mind and body of a lovely 10 year old.   And all I can say to that is, “Thank You God, for creating these majestic animals who have given this young lady a reason to push through every hard feeling and moment.”

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Dolly is a rescue horse (when Brooke first saw her she was emaciated from complete neglect).  She is now 28 years old and a true survivor.   Dolly is the perfect beginner horse and helps each rider feel confident.  Which has been such a gift to our daughter.   Not to mention me as her mom watching her ride each week!  I can trust in her being a stable horse and one who cares deeply for her riders!

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These two have come a long way together in only six months.   Dolly has been an excellent teacher and friend.  

 

This is her awesome trainer Brooke Vrany (The Sevens Ranch)…what an amazing encourager she is!

Once she made the switch to an English saddle she has never looked back – that was one month into riding!

Dolly has taught our daughter patience, courage, perseverance, and trusting in herself.

 

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The joy you see above has never left her face – not even after being throw off and falling off the other day.  She gets right back on – hurt and all.  She begs to come back to the farm and ride again.  Dolly has laid down on her four times over the last three weeks and even though that scared her tremendously – she wants to keep on riding.  Although, we made the decision no more riding Dolly.  She has been amazing to her, but we believe it is time to let her rest from the longer riding lessons and jumping.  The photos below are their last time riding together.   It has been extremely hard on our daughter to stop riding her, but their bond will never die.  Dolly is a gift and blessing to our girl’s heart and soul.

 

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Five months of lessons under her and she is already jumping.   Let’s just say she is HOOKED! 

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She kicked out of her stirrups and had an amazing last ride with her!

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Ending their ride with the perfect jump!

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Now, here is the amazing thing that developed from her riding lessons that I never expected…the incredible bond and invaluable lessons she would learn from Brooke.    Nor did I expect to learn just as much by watching them together week after week.   They developed a bond that will not be broken by our move.   Even if it hurts our daughter to the core knowing she won’t spend time with Brooke each week, she knows their love and respect will never die.   She knows it in a way that brought me to tears.   The day before her last lesson with Dolly, our daughter spent the entire day writing and re-writing a very deep letter of gratitude to Brooke.   Not knowing that her words would be the wind beneath Brooke’s wings to carry on with joy and perseverance in all that she does on the ranch, for the horses, and countless others in her life!

Our daughter came to me and asked if she could read me her letter before sharing it with Brooke.  Of course I said, “yes!”

Well, half way through it I was a complete mess.  I was in awe of her maturity, her way with words, and the depth of her tenderness and gratitude.   I knew this letter would mean the world to Brooke.  Truthfully, it would to any adult coaching a child to achieve their goals, and being blessed to see them nail each one!

This photo is going to be framed for both of them!  Open-mouthed smile

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I am so glad I stood back and captured these tender moments.  I know our daughter will cherish them forever!

If she only learned the truest meaning of love from riding a horse, then it was worth the countless hours in the freezing temps and driving her to the ranch a thousand times over!!!!!!

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Their smiles is the greatest gift to me.  I can’t even express what it means to have been given this opportunity to meet Brooke and Dolly.  They have blessed me in ways I never dreamed a horse and a new friend could!   I will cherish every moment we spent together and am so thankful this is not good-bye, but simply I will see you once again!  

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I am so glad Brooke asked for my camera so we could have a photo of all three of us together.   I will be sharing my personal journey with Dolly tomorrow. 

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Dolly, thank you for being such an amazing teacher and friend.  You will never know how much you changed our lives! 

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