A big lesson with Little Neigh

Happy Memorial Day!  Tomorrow I’ll share pictures of our holiday spent with family… but for tonight… a quick story about 7-year-old Emi.

This evening Emi was riding our pony, Little Neigh.  You might remember that Little Neigh joined our family earlier this year, and as far as we know he hadn’t been ridden before that.  Nine-year-old Asher put the first few rides on him, but then outgrew him (Little Neigh is just under 300 pounds), so Neigh has been Emi’s project ever since.  And she’s doing great with him.  He’s gotten out from under her a few times, but she just keeps persevering, and she’s such a great listener as Beau and I coach her through the beginning steps of horse training.  For his part, Little Neigh has been a rewarding project pony, kind and teachable and a really nice size for a 7-year-old girl.

Tonight Emi wondered if I would walk with her as she rode down the lane to the mailbox.  I did so happily, and she did very well putting Little Neigh through his paces on the ways to and from the mailbox.

And then… when we were almost back home… she, in full-on playfulness, asked Little Neigh to walk through a big puddle left over from the rains this past weekend.

Of course he refused to put even one foot in the puddle.  So of course I needed to show her how to show him that we don’t give up when a stubborn little pony is being naughty.  BY GOLLY, I declared, WE WOULD NOT QUIT UNTIL THE PONY WALKED THROUGH THAT PUDDLE.  She had asked it of him, and now we must follow through.  Not exactly the fight I wanted to fight on a Monday evening… but…

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Emi handled herself so well.  Back and forth they went AROUND the puddle.  She kept him moving, she turned him in the mud at the very edge of the puddle countless times.  I’m sure it was physically and mentally exhausting for her, but she kept at it.

FOR OVER AN HOUR.

For over an hour that stinking little pony refused to step into the puddle no matter how much Emi coaxed and reassured and prodded and clucked.  Emi did better than I think most adults would have… and still nothing.

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Early in the hour Beau came down from the house to see what we were up to, so he and I were both there coaching and cheering her as she bounced Little Neigh back and forth between us along the rim of the puddle.

For over an hour that stubborn little pony was pretty sure he was going to win.  The sun sank lower in the sky, along with any hopes I might’ve had for crossing a few more things off my own to-do list today.  But I knew we couldn’t throw in the towel.  I wanted Emi to know, and I wanted the pony to know, that we would FINISH THIS.

Trouble was, I could tell she was starting to get tired.  After all, a 7-year-old has only so much strength and stay-ability.  So in the end…

… Beau and I pretty much picked the pony up, with Emi on top of him and with the help of a rope behind his rump, and set him down in the middle of the puddle.

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That’s pure relief on her face.

She loved on him as he stood in the puddle.  Then she rode him out of the puddle.  She asked him again to walk through the puddle… and again we had to pick him up and put him in the puddle.  Repeat, repeat.

And then, finally — hallelujah! — on the last try of the day she was able to ride him into the puddle all by herself:

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It was truly a victory for Emi.  A long-fought, hard-won victory.  She was so proud of herself.

And we were so proud of her.

Little Neigh’s pretty small, but he’s teaching all of us some pretty big lessons.

© Tami Blake

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