On Saturday I took Sheridan for his first horseback riding lesson with my cousin Amber (she trains horses - and their owners - and shows horses for a living). I was so excited to get Sheridan riding with her. I know that this will be good for Sheridan on so many levels, and to be able to experience this with my cousin is proverbial icing on the equally proverbial cake. And, of course, Nonna (my mom) wouldn't miss this first session.
The moment Sheridan saw Shadow his mouth dropped open and he took in a big in-awe breath. Shadow is huge, gorgeous, and a true sincere Gentle Giant. He was so patient and sweet with Sheridan. Here's some pics:
Seeing Shadow for the first time (and holding tightly to Nonna's hand)
This is one of my favorite images from the day... so beautiful to see the three of them walking together
Helping Amber tie Shadow up
Sheridan was really timid around Shadow - which I expected - so he wasn't ready to help brush him, but he liked watching us brush Shadow
We walked around for a while, giving Sheridan some time to see all the different horses, watch them run (I learned the difference between a trot and a cantor and Sheridan learned that he loves saying the words trot and trotting). Then it was time to lead Shadow to the area where Sheridan would ride with Amber. Quick disclaimer: when I say Shadow was huge, I really mean it. In these pictures below I'm stepping on the 2nd or 3rd step of a little stairs unit so I could get Sheridan up near Amber.
So, first we worked on Sheridan petting/rubbing Shadow...
Here, Sheridan became interested in the saddle and soft blanket underneath, so he was getting into the idea of what equipment it takes to ride a horse
What happened after that was me putting Sheridan up on Shadow in front of Amber, Amber holding around him, Sheridan freaking out (I never fully let go because he started crying), my mom and Amber and I trying to help him settle in so he could feel comfortable (which didn't happen), and then I took him back down. It all lasted about 60 seconds (felt much longer), and i had feeling that it would go that way. I know once Sheridan is exposed to Shadow more and we go out regularly he'll eventually get up on him. I'm patient, and so is Amber :)
Amber then offered Sheridan an opportunity to "drive" Shadow, the boy quickly took the reigns and shook them like he knew what he was doing. He loved it.
Came in close to get comfortable with Shadow.
Walking Shadow back... still driving that horse. One of my other favorite images.
By the end of the lesson, Sheridan was really warming up to Shadow. Giving lots of hugs and kisses.
Camera had a delay and I missed Sheridan's huge smile while hugging Shadow
Big kisses for Shadow
I love how they kept eyeing each other up
When it was time to go, Sheridan walked right up to Shadow's front leg, gave him a big hug, and said, "Bye bye, Shadow. See ya!"
It will likely take a while, but I know he's going to do great. And all he could talk about was Amber and Shadow all weekend. Can't wait until this weekend to get him out there again!