The other day I noticed a news splash about a ten year old girl’s efforts to encourage Girl Scouts to raise their hands. The article really caught my attention. As I read about how this young girl is empowering girls to be confident like their boy peers, I thought about how our hard-working barn environment is shaping our girls. Much like the Girl Scout’s campaign, our barn environment is challenging young girls who ride horses to be confident, take leadership, and maybe…… think outside of the box. It was just a day later, that I had the perfect example of how our girls are also raising their hands.
On Saturday a gaggle of barn girls came up to me and asked, “may we get out the pony cart, harness Fish up, and teach him how to drive?” Considering on Saturday my day starts at 8 am and ends at 5 pm without a break, that was a tall order of request! The pony cart had 4 flat, maybe useless, tires. Fish had not been harnessed since he was 2, that was a year and a half ago. I didn’t even know where the box of harness could be found. I was sure with all this work to be done and me not able to assist them, they would drop the ball and I could relax into my usual Saturday madness, that I love. But, OH NO, not these girls. Now you might note these are my PE waiver girls, as I affectionately call them. They must participate in, at least, 15 hours of focused barn activities that lead to some form of competition. For this commitment, they get PE credit and an early release from school. Who wouldn’t want that gig at 13 years of age??? These girls are my next world leaders, as you’ll learn.
First, they called one of the many nice dads who stop by the barn now and then to spy on us, to come blow up the tires. I was sure “nice dad” would tell them it was a lost cause. Oh no, in a few short minutes a pony cart with 4 working tires appeared from the storage place where it had been for 2 years. OK, hurdle number one accomplished.
Second, despite her many trips into my arena to ask again, “where might the harness be?” Ellie could not be thwarted. Maybe, because she had to take a few weeks off of riding for a minor medical need, she was most determined to see this through. I could see her mind churning….just sitting in the cart, driving this pony, was worth all of the persistent pressure she was putting on me. I started to cheer them on in my head…watching their persistence was tapping into the child in me! Hmmm…I did have a possible short break coming up at 2 as there was no one arriving for our make-up lesson. I thought, with just a little help, they could pull this off! Before I could count to ten, Ellie walked up to the announcer’s stand and with sheer joy said they found the VERY moldy harness and away they went to scrub and oil it.
You might think that getting sweet Fish to tolerate these shenanigans might prove to be difficult. But, he’s grown up a lot over these last few years. I gave them my best quick harness lesson, driving lesson, and safety speech….and away they went!
These girls didn’t give up. These girls went after a dream. These girls worked together as a team. These girls kept raising their hands. I have seen this over and over in my life working with horses and kids. I love showing girls that we are more capable and stronger than we sometimes think! I’m proud to say that many of my students, including my own three daughters, have become highly successful in their lives and chosen careers. And, I truly believe this you-can-do-anything-confidence may have started with one Saturday afternoon pony carting adventure. Keep those hands high! Find your fearless!