I have long wondered about this moment, and I've wondered if it would ever happen.
Chloe, the little girl, and I were together in the corner of the yard, and I'd promised that we were going to ask Chloe if the little girl could ride. I told Chloe what we wanted to do, knelt down beside her, and made a mounting block with one knee. I asked the little girl to step up onto my knee with her left foot and put her hands on Chloe's back. This way, there could be no mistaking our intention. Chloe was on a loose leadrope - I wasn't holding her. As she showed no wish to move, I asked the little girl to swing one leg over Chloe's back and sit. And there she was, mounted on Chloe, who stood very still and patient.
Earlier on, I had brought Chloe out of the pasture and given the grooming box to the kids. At first they all wanted to brush her, but after a while only the little girl persisted, following Chloe around the lawn, relocating herself and the grooming kit whenever Chloe moved.
After lunch, I decided we could hazard a go at riding. The little girl had finished eating and had returned to Chloe. I went over, demonstrated Chloe's hand-shaking and kissing tricks, and then put the leadrope on. Once the little girl was mounted, Chloe refused to move. She did, however, paw the ground rather extravagantly a couple of times. I wondered what she meant - and then I realized she wanted to do her new foot-on-my-knee trick. So we did, without disturbing Chloe's little rider. I took the lead rope off for a short while, to emphasize to Chloe that I really didn't want to be making her do this if she didn't want to.
The girl's little brother came over, wanting to ride too. He asked me if he could, and I told him he had to ask Chloe. He didn't quite get it, and asked me again: "Can I ride the pony?" Then his sister said, "You have to say: 'Chloe, can I ride you?" So he put his face up to Chloe's nose - which was about on the same level as his head - and asked the right way. I think she said yes. We plonked him up on Chloe's back behind his sister, where he stayed until Chloe turned around to get away from Bridget, who was sticking her head over the fence, at which point little brother felt a bit insecure and asked to get down again.
Chloe now was ready to go back to the field and stuck her head through the gate. But the little girl's big brother wanted a turn. The girl got down, and I was about to show her brother how to mount, when she - full of confidence - came back over and demonstrated to him how it was done. Chloe stood quietly during the demonstration and while big brother mounted up. After a few minutes, Chloe decided she was really ready to re-join her buddies and pawed the gate. So I asked the boy to dismount and let Chloe back into her pasture.
During Chloe's lawn time, the other horses had been milling about on the other side of the fence, fussing and clamoring and trying to get our attention. The little girl's mother said to me, "I never knew horses did so much ... well, I guess you can't call it ... talking ..." "Communicating?" I suggested. And she said, "Yes! That's it!"
Later on, after the company had left, I let the other horses out. They all really like eating this plant -
Rose chomped off a peony blossom and then spat it out. She and Bridget both ate some poison ivy that was growing among the yucca. (When non-allergic daughter visits, I will get her to pull it out.)
Chloe meanwhile, ever independent, was going her own way in the barn pasture.
So - how about that Chloe?