A typical playdate exchange with school moms goes something like this.
Credit: Jennifer Paulson
Leo can't wait to have his friends out to ride Old Paint for the first Take a Friend Riding Challenge.
Me: I’ll pick up Leo at 4 sharp. He needs to go ride his horse this afternoon.
Other Mom: Um, what? Wait. He has a horse?
I’ve become accustomed to their befuddlement, so it no longer catches me off guard. But it does give me pause that a child having a horse—or learning to ride on a lesson mount—is so foreign to my suburbia neighbor moms. Living in Colorado, high-dollar ski passes and equipment goes without a second thought. But a horse? It’s as if we have a pet hippo!
‘I Rode as a Kid’
The second, less common, response from Other Mom is, “Oh, how cool. I rode as a kid.
Her answer generally ends with college, career, and/or kids replacing her horse activities. I tell her I can relate and ask her more questions about her past horse activities, plus share mine. We talk about how lucky my boys are to have Old Paint. And then there’s a quiet pause.
I say, “You should bring your kids out to ride.” Her eyes usually light up and she says she’d love that. But then life—our careers, kids’ activities, family—happens, and we don’t follow through.
I’ve also mentioned giving horses a try to the non-horse mom. She’s usually more guarded, which is understandable. It seems scary and potentially dangerous. I reassure her that we have helmets, and I’ll lead the horse or walk beside to offer her child confidence. But the same thing happens—we all run out of time, so we don’t make the connection.
Make the Time
September 1, 2016, kicks off a new initiative from the folks at Time to Ride (timetoride.com). It’s called “Pledge to Take a Friend Riding,” and it aims to encourage active riders to invite their non-riding friends out to take a spin on their horses. They’ve sweetened the deal with a prize: a luxury Montana dude-ranch vacation at The Resort at Paws Up.
Prize aside, when I told my boys about the pledge, they couldn’t wait to ask a couple of their buddies to come ride (or even just visit) Old Paint. The opportunity to share their special interest with close pals had them hounding me to get it on the calendar. We’re setting a date, and we’re committed to making it happen. No more excuses!
We want to know: Do you invite your friends out to take your horse for a spin? If you do, send us your stories at the email address below. We can share some of your experiences to encourage other readers to take their friends riding.