Up until early last summer, Luke rode horses weekly at a local riding arena for over two years. He traded work in exchange for his riding lessons, but his love for the style of riding he was doing waned. I'm not sure Luke has the patience for the slower "reigning" type riding, and he decided he no longer wanted to ride weekly. Luke's two instructors, Jim and Tiffany were sad to lose him. Luke made a way into their hearts and their love for Luke was obvious in their repeated phone calls asking and offering him to come ride anytime.
Two weeks ago, while in the recesses of my closet in the middle of an organization project, his instructor, Tiffany called me. Not only was I shocked she was calling, but by the end of the call, I was quite speechless. (That's rare.)
A person that Jim and Tiffany know is "retiring" from riding horses and has an older, well-trained horse he wants to give away to someone who would love and care for it. Jim and Tiffany immediately thought of Luke, and thus the phone call.
Mike and I spent a couple of days in secret deliberation. We weighed the costs of responsibility, finances, time and effort that adding a horse to our crew would bring. Cryptically, one afternoon, Mike took Luke to "meet the horse." Despite the fact our friend, and great horseman, Spence "went along for the ride", Luke was pretty clueless about the whole thing and believed that Tiffany simply wanted Luke to "test out a horse for them." Spence quietly observed and gave Mike the opinion and advice Mike needed. (The horse was very well trained and looked very well taken care of.)
That evening, Mike and I told Luke and Joshua the truth... We told them the story of the guy wanting the horse to have a loving home, and that we were considering letting Luke, Joshua and Drew become horse owners. We helped Luke understand that he had earned himself a good reputation, and these people recommended him to be a responsible, loving person for someone to trust giving away the horse they have loved for years. We told the boys we needed a couple of days to make a decision, and for them too, to be thinking of the choice.
Mike and I ultimately turned the decision over to the boys. We wanted them to "own" the choice, and therefore feel more ownership in the whole decision. Especially considering they would need to contribute a fair amount financially to the horse's upkeep, and nearly all of the effort into the daily care.
Mike wasn't home when the deadline for our decision came and I sat the boys down to ask them to give us their decision. I was careful to explain to them, that getting a horse opens up our hearts to heartache and sadness when the animal comes time to leave us. We have been very careful to explain to the children that this is an older horse and could live for one year, or five. There are no guarantees.
Of course, there was really no decision to make. Joshua and Luke wholeheartedly and enthusiastically agreed that they would take on the responsibility of a horse.
Drew on the other hand didn't share the same enthusiasm. He had no smile on his face, and his lips were in a slightly pouty position. Disappointed he sighed, "I really wanted a cow."
His disappointment about not getting a cow only lasted about a week, until he decided instead, "I want to buy a polar bear to live with Hank. I really want to have two white things live outside."
Later that day, Champ arrived in our cul-de sac.
Maybe Drew wasn't too excited on Friday afternoon when a truck and horse trailer arrived in our cul-de-sac, and a horse exited instead of a polar bear.
But Joshua and Luke were thrilled.
The Sowby Family's newest addition.