We took the opportunity, on the recommendation of a friend, to take a home school class out at Second Chance Ranch & Rescue in Rainier, WA. It was truly a treat to take the girls out there, they had a great time!
As soon as we got there we were greeted by teacher/trainer Amy. The girls were both very excited, as they carried around their bike helmets their eyes got bigger and bigger with all 50+ beautiful horses they had on the property. However, after walking around, Emma generated a certain bond with a particular horse. This kindred soul was called Greatful – a retired race horse, 18 hands in size, strikingly gentle and handsome, from a local racetrack in Auburn. Katie took the time to get down to E’s level and talk to her about how it was ok to cry and be scared but that at one time Greatful was afraid of people as well – just like she was afraid of him. E trusted Katie enough to let her teach her how to feed Greatful a carrot, and once E accomplished that she bonded with Greatful, and Katie, with ease. Even after looking at all the other horses she didn’t want to be with anyone else but Greatful. E’s spent the rest of the aftenroon writing about Greatful in her journal, as well as telling her story at dinner time.
K, a little braver, wasn’t quite as afraid to feed the horses, until she had two carrots in her hand and walked by five horses in stalls to get to a white horse she desperately wanted to feed. As she was walking by, all the horses tipped their heads out of the stalls and because she is so tiny she was face to face with all of them. As a parent, looking at it, it was a tad funny because the horses all new and wanted what she had in her hand. However, in her little mind all she knew was when she zigged a horse came down to greet her, and when she zagged a horse said hello! Amy came right over and explained to K that the horses wanted the carrots and they thought she was going to give them. She took K over to the white horse and fed it. On the way back around the barn, the horses were still checking her out, but this time she thought it was pretty hilarious and went and got more carrots to feed her new friends.
K had one more hurdle to overcome in riding. She was so excited, but when she got ready, standing next to Greatful she panicked. The more she panicked, the worse her Sensory overload became. It became so much that she was rocking back and forth in my arms and shaking. Amy and Mommy to the rescue. I lifted K up and took her over to Greatful and had her put her hands on the blanket under his saddle. Amy stepped in and softly spoke to Kayla explaining the Greatful was also afraid at one time, but to try touching different parts of his saddle and shoulders. As soon she was at the same height as Greatful and touching him and the saddle she started to calm down. I told her she wouldn’t get another chance to ride because I was afraid she might go through this again. Amy walked around to one side and I lifted K up and as soon as she was on the saddle, her entire self just relaxed and a huge shine came over her face. I went to go walk with her and she said “No, MaMa, you can stay – I got this.”
I was really blown away by not only those situations with my kids, but the time the staff took with all the kids. Amy taught the kids about grooming the horse and gave them each a chance. She explained about the farrier and horses nails. She talked about saddles, what they eat and exercise. The kids had a ton of questions and she patiently answered all of them. After riding they were treated to a show by another horse from Germany called Konjak (I thought it was Konji, but the twins have promptly corrected me!). He did addition problems, played hide and seek, gave hugs and kisses and poses for pictures. What a great group!
Amy, the trainer, and Katie, the owner, were amazing with all the kids. They both have a lot of education and experience with kids and animals. They both took the time to help the girls over their fears and created a sense of confidence. The classes are more than reasonably priced, as well as the riding lessons. While we only took a beginning class, we will be heading back to take a few more classes.
Please go out and visit, or contact Amy or Katie for the next class. They also offer riding lessons at a very reasonable rate. By visiting them, not only are you supporting local business, but your supporting a cause near and dear to our heart, animal rescue. We promise, you won’t regret it!