Saturday, June 23, 2012

Zoya Rides a Horse!

Zoya is sort of obsessed with horses! But until today she had never interacted with a real horse! We have a bouncy horse she loves to ride, we have the carousel at the zoo that she has a love/scared-to-death relationship with, and lately Zoya has been putting her stuffed Mickey and Minnie on various household objects and pretending they are riding a horse! I'm not sure exactly where this obsession started, but I thought it'd be fun to give horseback riding a try!

We found a great therapeutic riding center that allows younger children to ride. So this morning we took a trip out there. I'll be honest, I had pictures of Zoya clinging to me like she sometimes does on the carousel. I had prepared myself for the worst, but followed our motto, "If you never try how will you know?" So we gave it a shot! My hope was that she would just pet the horse and if she just did that it would have been a successful first trip!

Zoya gets anxious with new experiences, but as we grow together, we're learning how to decrease that anxiety for her....part of this includes approaching new experiences in teeny-tiny steps and having a "no pressure approach." That means that we have to be okay knowing she might need more time until she is comfortable with a new experience, and that the first time doing something new might not always be a roaring success. Just having this attitude alone takes a lot of pressure off us and off Zoya. That girl picks up on EVERYTHING, and if she feels pressured to do something when she isn't ready, well you might as well just forget about it. If only we would have realized this sooner, we could have saved ourselves and Zoya a lot of stress and anxiety. But, hey, we're learning as we go!

Anyways, I'm happy to report that this new experience was a roaring success! Zoya got to visit with some of the horses and pet them. She was hesitant at first, but slow and steady won the race! She watched other kids get on the horse and said very confidently, "ME DO!" And I pulled the ol' sibling-card! I said, "Oh really? YOU want a turn? Who should have a turn? Mila? Mila wants a turn." Zoya said "NO, ME!" And I said, "Oh, okay I guess you can have a turn if you really want to." I love her confident-yet-still needs-mama stage. Because she was so excited to get on that horse but she still needed me to reassure her and walk along side her! She giggled nervously as the large dog horse started moving. She told the horse "walk on" and "woah" except every time the horse moved she said "WOAH!" because she was so excited so they were trying to teach her that "woah" means "stop" to a horse LOL. Her horse's name was Maple and she thought he was so cool!
Looking at the horses (Minnie Mouse along for security!)
She asked if he was eating Pretzels (probably because that's her favorite snack!)

Checking out Maple from a distance

Okay, maybe it's not so bad!

Time to do this without mama's arms!

And a little closer

All angles here!

Meeting another horse

Minnie's turn to pet the horse

My favorite picture! She thought his teeth were cool after she got over the initial shock..he was breathing so hard it was like we were in a wind tunnel for a minute!

Getting ready to ride, trying on her helmet!

Holding on to mama...she was so ready but still a little nervous!

She's doing it!

Ready to go!

There is a smile!!

Saying "Walk On"

Getting ready to ride through the woods!

And we're back!

I think she had a good time!!


  1. SUCCESS! Way to go Zoya! I'm so very proud of you! Riding horses were always my favorite growing up too.

  2. Love these pictures! Looks like she had a blast! The picture of the horse's teeth is hilarious!

  3. Maria from SpainJune 23, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    These pics remind me of my childhood when my Dad took me to ride on a pony. I'm so happy for Zoya as I do love horseback riding. 4 years old is the best age to begin and if she enjoys she'll become a great rider. What wonderful opportunities you're giving them. I hope riding becomes a passion for her. In that case I forsee a new furry member of the family in the future ...;). Go Zoya !!

  4. Gooooo Zoya! That pony is about the most adorable pony in the world and Zoya looks great on him!

  5. Good job Zoya!!!! Love the smiles she found for the camera....I think she had a good time too! I'm sure she's been talking about it non-stop the rest of the day!! Oh my how she's growing up!! She'll be asking Daddy for a pony for Christmas!!! :)

  6. hippotherapy is wonderful! Our family has volunteered, mostly my father, for over 15 years at The Therapeutic Riding center in MD.

    Zoya and Maple look adorable, does your neighborhood allow ponies? :D

    1. Awesome! When I taught special ed. we took our kids once a week in the fall/winter to a therapeutic Riding program! They loved it! Unfortunately at that place they have to be 6 to ride, so we found another therapeutic riding center that starts at age 3!!! And I think my neighbors would have a heart attack if we got a pony...although that one wasn't MUCH bigger than a very big dog LOL!

  7. Oh my goodness, what a triumph for her! Her face got so relaxed and happy by the end. Is she still talking about it?

    1. Yes every time we talk about Maple she says "TEETH!!!" That part really stuck with her I guess LOL!

  8. Your girls are too precious for words! I am very lucky to have one sweet little girl with ds on my EI caseload. I work with deaf/hearing-impaired babies from birth to age 3 and this darling little one year old has a conductive hearing loss that we watch carefully. Tubes have helped greatly, but we still watch her! She is learning sign language to augment her wonderful emerging verbal skills!!
    Your girls are amazing and I LOVE visiting your blog to see what they are doing!
    We adopted both of our girls too (they are 14 and 18 now) and if I wasn't almost 51 I would adopt a child with ds from RR in a heartbeat!! They are truly a blessing!!

    Susan from Boston

    1. What a great job you have!! And P.S. there is no age limit in many countries tee hee!! ;)

  9. The cuteness is out of control!!! Also, that is not a horse, it is a precious, adorable teeny tiny Zoya sized pony!!! Perfect match!

    1. Ha!! Right? Well Pony-back riding just doesn't have the same ring to it LOL

  10. It looks like Zoya had a GREAT day! I love to see her ear to ear smile! Thanks for sharing this adventure with us.

  11. Don't even know you guys but am just sooo proud of your sweet Zoya! She did an awesome job and looked just adorable on the pony!
    Also, it is really clear just how much trust she has in her mama and I know in part that is because she knows she is respected--fears and all! I love how you and your husband don't push or (heaven forbid!)ridicule her for having fears and anxieties. I've seen that far too often in my life and it is just so sad for the kids when their parent/caregivers do that.
    Anyway, glad you had a great time! Way to go, Zoya!

  12. Anna from SwedenJune 28, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Aww, that pony is teeny tiny! So cute!

    I used to be a "horse girl" when I was growing up, and I took riding lessons for about 10 years. It was always my big dream to help out at the therapeutic riding sessions, but they only happened in the daytime, when I was in school...

    Anyway, Zoya looks like she can be a really good rider, she has a very good posture on the horses back. So cute! Go Zoya! :D

  13. Sarah, how is sweet baby Ryan and his mama doing? I hadn't seen an update so I was just wondering... Prayers, Lori

  14. That was so neat and I love the pictures. My 15 year old adopted sister is blind and she is taking riding lessons again. She did it when she was little. She loves it and it is so good for her. Maybe Zoya will be the same and love it. She is so beautiful!