Leo sits atop Paddycakes, his new best friend.

Yesterday morning, I got a text message from my mom. It included this photo of my nearly 3-year-old son, Leo, on a friend’s pony. My heart melted at the sight.

Sure, Leo has ridden bareback on various horses (mostly my brother’s old calf-roping horse), and he’s even ridden this pony, Paddycakes, before. But it was the first time he’d been fully outfitted in his helmet and hand-me-down saddle (sans stirrups, for safety), sitting astride Paddycakes without reaching to a grownup for assurance and security. My little…excuse me…big cowboy. He spent the morning brushing Paddycakes’ long pony hair and petting the trusty steed before deciding that it was the perfect day to test his saddle and sit on Paddycakes’ back. I can only imagine what lies ahead for my future horseman (and his younger brother, who’s due any day now).

It was pure coincidence that Juli Thorson’s Horse Talk yesterday featured a post about getting the younger generation involved with horses. Juli, much like my mom, is the grandmother of a young wanna-be cowboy. Grandmas (and grandpas) across the country, who once fostered their daughters’ and sons’ horse interests, often putting aside their own equine aspirations to accommodate their kids’ quests for ribbons, will once again play a major role in getting youngsters involved with horses. I have to say, I can’t think of a better person than my mom to get Leo started on the road to being a horse-crazy kid. After all, she’s the entire reason I became involved with horses, which led to incredibly enriching opportunities I’d have never otherwise known, including this dream job at Horse&Rider!

I can’t wait to share more of Leo’s experiences with horses and ponies–hopefully with more firsthand accounts. But hearing him go on and on about his experiences with my mom, whom he calls “Honey”, will be just as satisfying.

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