This morning at the horse farm

This morning, Maybelle and I got to go with Nina and Claire to Nina's horseback riding lesson at Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding.

Here's what the morning was like for Nina:
Nina jumping with Blackjack

And here's what it was like for Maybelle:
Running at the farm

I highly recommend this as a Saturday morning activity. It was cool and sunny this morning, and the farm is a big open area where Maybelle could run around, climb on things, and sing herself a variety of songs while Claire and I visited. And what is more fun than a morning with Claire, Nina, and Maybelle? It was a particularly perfect morning for me, for a variety of reasons:

  • Horseback riding is a very gendered activity. One of my best friends writes about horses, and one of the things she's often noted is how much girls and women love horses. I don't particularly love horses, but I'm fascinated about why so many girls and women do.
  • I know that CATR deals with mostly female clients because I got to visit with the Director of Community Lessons, Shayla, who's a WGS alum. She mentioned that the last time she saw Maybelle was when Shayla was in my Gender and Violence class in 2009. This, as you may remember, was the class that met for three hours one night a week. Because Maybelle wouldn't get any sustenance from anywhere other than my body, Biffle had to bring her to class every week so that she could breastfeed. Several times I was making pronouncements about violence while one arm was wrapped around a little nursing body, covered with a blanket. That was a weird, weird experience, y'all.
  • You may have noticed that the name of the place is Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding. They deal with typical clients, like Nina, but they also do riding as a therapeutic activity for kids with disabilities. So Maybelle might end up doing some therapeutic riding down the line. If she becomes less terrified of horses.
I will say that Maybelle overcame some of her terror this morning. Shayla helped us to introduce her to Blackjack, the horse Nina trains on, in a way that made Maybelle do something other than cling to my body, adamantly repeating, "No bee-tou! No bee-tou" (no thank you). She did end up petting Blackjack. So maybe someday she'll be a rider.

Here's one more of Nina:

Nina and Blackjack


Elizabeth said...

My daughter Sophie did therapeutic riding for many years (hippotherapy), and it was wonderful to see. I encourage you to pursue it for Maybelle -- the gait of the horse mimics the human gait and is thus therapeutic physiologically, but more importantly, so much confidence and self-mastery is instilled -- I watched so many kids of various disabilities become confident, more communicative and at ease up on the large animal.

starrlife said...

Kayli has always been scared of horses but has been able to ride ponies at the fair a couple of times.
I'll be looking forward to finding out what it is with gals and horse. As a young girl I had minimal contact with actual horse but I wanted a horse so bad before the age of 10 I cried! Hmmm....
I can't make comments here really I'm afraid - the word veri kinda makes me want to break my computer so I'll email my comments to you!

Alison said...

Your comment made it!

I'm going to take off the word verification thing and see if we get flooded with spam (mixed metaphor, I know).

Alison said...

And Elizabeth, thanks for the good news about hippotherapy! That makes me more eager to move forward.

Jen B. said...

I love this blog, articles, songs, rollerderby, and horse riding? Those are some of our favorite things. Our friend Kim Porter is a rollerderbier here, and for a while I think my kids thought only women did sports. I heard them correct someone on this point.

Don't tell Maybelle to ask Arden about the horse that bit her. It was a miniature horse, but those are (now) are the only ones I really fear. On the other hand, show Maybelle these!: http://snarkyrider.com/2011/10/16/wdc-more-costumes/

micahblaise said...

Alison, it is so exciting to see Maybelle at a horse farm! Learning to ride and train ponies in girls-only spaces throughout my adolescence was, I think, an important early foray into feminism for me. Spending time with horses is SO empowering for all children! My bet is she will get over her fear. And maybe even read every single book in the Saddle Club book series. Just saying.

Also, very exciting to see you in the NYT! Congrats on being a badass.