Are you ready for too many pictures?  I mean, really.

Our dear Madelin has been riding horses recently.  She's always loved horses, as many girls do.  And more recently, in the last year or so, she has been, well, a little obsessed.  She's begged for a horse more than once, is what I'm saying.  Why oh whyyyyyyyyyy do we not have a horse?  Stuff like that.  You know how it goes.

Recently, we heard on good ol' facebook that Madelin's friends' dad has been training to become a certified hippo-therapist.  He travels down to Phoenix as often as he can to work with Helping Hands.  He's hoping to make a career out of this soon.  And meanwhile, because he has a service he wants to practice, but he's not yet certified, he's invited a few kids out to ride and learn.  Madelin is blessed to be one of those kids!

 Madelin has some medical issues, and I want to respect her privacy about them.  But let me just say, this therapy is great for her in so many ways.  She loves it!  She lives for that day every week when she gets to go and ride.

 Here she is riding Geisha.  Geisha is a spitfire of a stubborn horse.  She's known for her temper.  We did not think these two would be a match!  But, here's how they do it - they let the horse pick the rider.  Madelin was introduced to several horses.  She interacted with them, helped groom them, the whole bit.  Then she got to sit on them.

 So, there Geisha was, stomping and laying her ears back when others touched her.  Then Madelin gets on her, bareback, and starts petting her, and Geisha immediately relaxed, closed her eyes, and fell right asleep!  Madelin's trainer was so surprised!

Since that first lesson, Madelin has cared for the horses, ridden bareback, learned a little bit about horse anatomy and chiropractic treatment, graduated to saddle riding, and has begun riding with reins instead of on a lead.  She loves every single second of it.  Every one.

Here she is playing a barrel game.  She rode out to the barrels, circled around them, and dropped a ball into a little can on the barrel.  Tricky stuff!

This rodeo was a chance for these special kids to show their families what they've learned.  We spent a couple hours out there, and everyone loved every minute.

One of the other kids' great-grandpa came to watch.  He's 93 now, but back in the day he was a real, honest-to-goodness cowboy.  He was invited to teach these kids how to rope, and he was the best teacher! They all picked it up right away.

After Ben's turn successfully roping that little steel calf you see up there, that real cowboy called Ben a cowboy.  He came right over to me to tell me about that little comment, and this is how he looked.  He was soooooooooo completely flattered he couldn't even look at me to tell me!  He just blushed and stood there like that trying to compose his over-the-moon excitement.

 Sam tried his hand at it, too!  He was great!  I love his shy little proud grin when he does something he knows is awesome!

Then the boys got to ride.  Here's been on Fat Boy.  He's a sweet old fat horse.   Do you think Ben liked riding at all?

Sam got to hop on behind him, and as you can tell, I don't think Fat Boy even realized he was there!  (munch, munch)

They rode around that way for awhile, then Sam got to ride Fat Boy alone...

 And Ben hopped on Geisha!

Secret : Madelin was not a fan of sharing Geisha!

She got herself over there right quick to see about getting back on to ride all by herself again.

James wasn't too sure about taking a turn.  He absolutely did not want to ride the big horses, but Twinkie, this cute pony, was all saddled up for little tykes like him.  Tyler took him around a few times, and I think he loved it!

 After the rodeo, we had a pot-luck BBQ.  Nothing like yummy food and good company!  And the kids were ready for some good eats after all the fun.

Poor little Lewis.  We kept him in the shade as much as possible, and he was sick and miserable.  It was a long day for him!

Doesn't his face just about sum it all up?  He was just monstrously lit up about the whole experience.  He loved it!

We all did!  I'm glad we have this great and supportive group of people we get to rub shoulders with.  Madelin's trainer, Darren Shumway, is gifted - he has a heart for kids and horses, and really believes in the benefit of this kind of therapy.  I absolutely love what he is doing, and am so grateful Madelin gets to be a part of Courageous Rides.

We really feel so blessed about this opportunity for Madelin.  We consider it one of the Lord's tender mercies in our life.  The timing, how everything fell together - His hand is apparent in all of it, and we are all so grateful!


Martie said...

That's really beautiful. I love how sometimes, something so right turns up at just the perfect moment, and it means so much. Wonderful! The children look so cute and happy! (P.S. I love freckles.)

Madelin, you look so grown up. STOP IT!! :O)

Chelsee said...

Could that old cowboy possibly be my grandpa? I bet yes:)

Katie Richins said...

Chelsee - Why yes it would! He's so charming - it was great meeting him!

sheila said...

That is beautiful! I am excited for Madeline and for your family as well. So super awesome!