I should have known better. When Youngest Daughter decided to try a ride with George this evening, Daughter No. 3 decided to ride Rose. Now today was the very first time that Rose came up to me and let me scratch her head over the fence. Probably not a good idea to throw on a saddle and say, 'Hey, guess what, time for a ride!'
However, hating to say no, I let my daughter get Rose saddled up; after all she had ridden her before at Rose's old barn. Rose didn't flip out or anything like that, but it was more than clear that she thought the whole thing was a bad idea. Daughter #3 had the good sense to not want to be on a horse who didn't want her aboard, but failed to see the brilliance of my suggestion that she just put a halter on her and take her for a walk instead. Oh well.
George, on the other hand, was raring to go. Youngest Daughter put on his new (to us) Wintec Endurance saddle with the Cair panels (minus stirrups, which we'd forgotten to attach), and I gave her a leg up. We set off down the drive, with me walking beside. At the end of the drive, my daughter let George pick which way to go. Now, she doesn't hold with all my crazy ways and is rather afraid I'm going to turn all the horses into spoiled brats. However, I explained to her that the goal is not to produce the horse equivalent of the Me Generation but to offer them the opportunity to communicate, thereby engendering in them a sense of responsibility and encouraging them to become fully functioning members of society. I told her the wonderful stories about the horse Thunder which Kris McCormack relates in a recent blog entry: "Taking a Closer Look at a Very Bad Habit".
So she decided to let George decide when to turn around and go home. At one point she asked him if he wanted to go back. Back at our place, the mares had thrown themselves into a tizzy and were charging up and down whinnying. But George scorned their weak sentimentality and declared that he preferred to continue along the road. The next time my daughter suggested he might like to turn back, he agreed. But on noticing an inviting farm track leading off away from the road, he turned up it to explore. As it was getting late, we had to cut off exploration before we'd gotten very far, and we headed home.
There's a difference in George - hard to put my finger on - but he seems more confident, more interactive, more mature.