When my mini-me got her first pony, she was a peanut of a thing. Maybe 40 pounds soaking wet. Her legs barely came past the saddle flap. She let me put her hair in pigtails any old time I wanted to. Back then, she still thought I was cool. That I had all the answers. I tagged all her pony pictures with #pigtailsandponies
Those were the days…or were they? I mean, these days are pretty cool too, but in a whole new way.
When you see a friend’s kid for the first time in a year or so, you’re blown away by how much they’ve grown. Your own children grow every day, but in such small amounts that you almost can’t tell it’s happening. Sure, you know they’re growing up, but it’s gradual. At least it was gradual for me until one day this winter.
I am not sure how the genes sorted themselves out, but both of my children are tall. I’m decidedly not. I say I’m 5’4” because it makes my BMI better, but in truth, I’m 5’3” (and none of me is leg). My husband is 5’10”, my dad is 5’5”. We just do not come from tall stock. I rode medium ponies until I aged out of the mediums, and never physically outgrew ponies. I naively assumed that my children would follow suit, but genetics had other plans.
My child has the long, thin legs my equitation-goal-brain always longed for. She turned 13 this fall, and since the EXTRA long Tailored Sportsman jods (let out even more by my tailor) were getting short, it was time to make the move to tall boots. After hours of shopping time and far too much money, we finally found a pair that fit her long legs. They would have to be made for her, so we ordered her boots and waited for them to ship.
Moving to tall boots is a double whammy. We weren’t just saying goodbye to jods, but also to my favorite pigtails and bows. I pacified myself with the knowledge that she still fit her pony. True, we were pushing it, but her feet weren’t below the pony’s belly yet…until they were. When I saw her on a proper sized horse, I realized she didn’t look tiny. She… fit.
There is something about seeing your kid suddenly in breeches and tall boots, hair tucked inside her helmet, on a horse, when reality hits. It’s the same as when you see your friend’s kid that you haven’t seen in a year. Mind blowing. I had allowed myself to continue seeing her as the same little girl I sent into her first walk/trot class all those years ago. As long as she had on jods and pigtails, she was still my little girl. But that moment she came out of the tack room in her new boots and hairnet, there was no denying it — she was growing up.
Gone are the days of her in the backseat on the way to the barn, begging me to play Taylor Swift as loud as I could stand it. Now she’s riding shotgun and requesting (often with attitude and eye rolling) her own music choices. Her legs have been longer than mine for quite some time, but now they are so much longer that adjusting the stirrups when we switch horses is no longer optional, it’s necessary. I no longer have all the answers, and I’m quite certain she wouldn’t describe me as cool, but I’m slowly beginning to enjoy this growing up phase.
I’m learning to respect her space at shows and back off, even though it’s really, really hard for me to do so. I’m learning that when I do back off, she’s more likely to ask my opinion on what went right or what went wrong. I’m learning that I’ve raised a smart, kind, and grounded young lady. The long rides to and from the barn give us lots of time to talk about friends, and horses, and everything else.
I miss my little #pigtailsandponies girl, but I kind of like this teenage version too. #hairnetsandtallboots doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but it’s a pretty cool place to be at the moment