As this was Labor Day weekend, we had the pleasure of the company of my oldest daughter and her husband. My son-in-law has only been on a horse a handful of times, all when he was very young, but he's keen to learn to ride.
We formed a plan to take the horses out on Sunday afternoon. As often happens, when the hour arrived and we were heading into the house to get ready, the horses came over to us. George approached my son-in-law and nudged his back.
When we came out again, Bridget and Chloe were off in the field, and George and Rose were at the ready in the yard.
I'd planned to have my daughter ride George and to lead my son-in-law on Rose. But I thought I'd better check with George, especially as he'd already expressed an interest in my son-in-law. My daughter went to catch Rose, while I caught George and lead him over to my son-in-law. I asked George what he thought about who should ride whom. Sure enough, George walked up to my son-in-law and stuck his face in his chest. Pretty clear.
My son-in-law was captivated by George, who behaved very sweetly and meekly as we brushed him and tacked him up. I've been talking up the Spilkerization of our little household, and my son-in-law (a recent convert to dogs, and by extension to all animals, and with something of the convert's zeal) volunteered the astute observation that it might be better to just hang out with the horse for a few weeks and not bother about riding. I applauded this noble sentiment, but clearly George was already anticipating a ride, so I said it'd be ok to go ahead.
Meantime, my daughter was a little puzzled by exactly who Rose is. When I told her she was a Thoroughbred, but not a racehorse, for some reason everything became clear to my daughter, and she took a great liking to Rose. Rose again turned her head from the bridle, but as soon as she felt it heading straight towards her ears (meaning no bit), she relaxed her head toward my daughter.
The two riders mounted at the picnic table. I love the Wintec Endurance Cair panel saddle on Rose, which meant the saddle I put on George was much too small for my son-in-law. We made do, however, and set off. When we got a little way down the road, George decided we should turn off into the fields, which was fine by me, so we did.
My son-in-law, having felt a little trepidation in advance, found himself enjoying the ride, as well as the view from his higher vantage point. My daughter found Rose very green but willing to listen.
After a while, George began to express a disinclination to continue. The saddle situation was very much less than ideal, with - I imagine - some quite uncomfortable localized pressure. I suggested to my son-in-law that maybe George would prefer if he got down. He agreed with alacrity and was happy to lead George the rest of the way.
We continued home, and after the horses were untacked, the two riders and the two horses spent a little time together on the lawn. Rose always feels very bonded to the person she's been riding with, and she closed her eyes and kept close to my daughter. George's ears lopped out as he stood beside his new buddy.
Later, my son-in-law observed that George's attitude toward him changed over the course of their time together. He felt that at the beginning, George had sensed his uncertainty and lack of confidence and had been making a special effort to put him at his ease. Later, as he was leading George along, he felt that his confidence had grown and that George was not bothering to reach out in the quite the same way any more. I'd say that was true. I think my son-in-law will be good at this!
I also think George made a good call in choosing to ride with my son-in-law and having Rose go with my daughter.