I've always felt Siera had some potential in some sort of fashion.
I recall the power of attraction when I was Ariel's age. I recall the how my heart soared each time my uncle would let us go riding. I recall staying at his place and him telling me that a horse he was keeping called 'Buddy' was mine to ride and care for during my week long stay.
At the begining of the week, I told Ariel that Siera was her mule for the week. Hers to groom, to ride, to hand walk if she felt like it. Hers to handle for her stay.
Imagine suddenly having the confidence to walk into a pasture and gather up the mule you are to take care of.
You can catch her at any time and take her out. You've learned to properly saddle her by yourself.
These are the things Ariel learned this week. She also learned so much more about riding.
Siera has been an excellent mount for Ariel. The mule is calm, relaxed, easy going, and quite attached to her handler.
Experience ... Experience ... Experience. Practice and practice. Riding is a long and gradual learning curve. Each experience builds on another.
But the experience becomes more real and more incredible with each ride. Slowly, each piece of the puzzle that comes together.
and then saddling her properly by herself.
These are things Ariel has learned and can now do with confidence.
We took our first extended long ride. I rode Sunshine my little redhead.
We passed along the ridge top and then headed into the valley where the creek is. The snow mobile/camp road has not been used at all this year so we had to make our way slowly. It involved a bit of 'ditch diving' which is mule-speak for dropping off or climbing up ditches that are about 5 feet tall.
I led with Sunshine and for a moment Ariel sat on Siera and said, "Um, that is steep! I don't know."
I smiled and said, "Trust your mule, Siera won't let you get hurt. She likes you."
Actually, mules are self preservationists and normally refuse to do anything dangerous.
Ariel asked Siera to drop down the harsh steep bank. Siera balked and then calmly made her way down.
The realization and the smile of wonder that lit up Ariel's face was worth all the hard work we've done for the past three summers.
We rode down into the forest where I stopped to check saddle girths before we rode down the steep hill.
We explored for a while and I told her that in the future we'd cross the creek and explore some more amazing places. I lamented too that now that I had a fun riding partner ... she had to go back home.
We rode quietly back towards home as the sun was setting. Our very first sunset ride.
And I leave you with this....a Quote I found while browsing Horse Quotes. I changed the one word to Mule.
Why do I ride mules?
Because I look at my mule and I see
My Hopes and Dreams.
I see my Happiness.
I see my Hopes and Dreams.
I see my Pride and Soul.
I look in a mirror and I see a
I look at my mule and I see
And that I think, says it all.