When Emerson was five she set her heart on horseriding lessons. She'd had one pony lead ride at Australia Zoo, followed by a much-anticipated miniature horse party at Mini Mates Minature Horse and Pony Farm. But really, I had no idea whether this would be a short-lived phase or a long-term commitment. For now, at least, it seems to be the latter. How long she rides is up to her.
Her riding teacher pointed out with all honesty the difficulty in learning to ride at her age. The strength and coordination necessary to communicate your directions to a horse, which come easier with age. But she was not deterred. She started with a few casual lessons at the end of last year, signed up for fortnightly lessons the first term of this year and progressed to weekly lesson come second term. Now, during school holidays, while classes are also on break, she misses her time with the horses.
Despite twice falling off her horse - the first time on her sixth birthday, the second time she was winded, bruised and shaken - she has chosen to get back on again. She told me later that if you love something you just have to do it, even if it is difficult.
The sad anxious girl we took out of school is nowhere to be seen when she is on a horse. The confidence that I see growing in her as she learns to ride at her own pace is noticeable in other areas of her life. Whether she will keep riding, compete, or own horses when she is older, none of that matters to me. We just want to support and encourage her in any way we can to do what she is passionate about now. Buying her a riding helmet for her birthday, surprising her with riding boots and books about horses. Then we stand back and follow her lead.