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Monday, February 7, 2011

“I Promise” or How I lost at “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader”

I promise. Two simple little words spoken in response to a question from my oldest daughter. It was one of those incredibly stupid things that parents sometimes say before their brains fully engage. My oldest wanted a horse. Bad. She was constantly begging us to get her a horse. Since we lived in a patio home in the city a horse did not figure into our plans. So in a stroke of brilliance I said to my daughter, “I promise to help you own a horse if you can buy it.” Now, I knew enough to know that a horse with any kind of reasonable training on it would be between $2,500 and $5,000 in our area. My daughter was eleven at the time and that is a huge sum of money for a kid to come up with. I was safe. Yeah, right.

My oldest daughter is in Westernaires. For those of you that do not live in the Denver metro area, Westernaires is a youth organization located in Jefferson County, Colorado. The members range in age from 9 to 19 or until they graduate from high school. They ride in teams that range from about 20 to 50 kids on a team (there is one team right now with 78 girls!). They ride mounted drills such as forming propellers, the Mariners Cross, thread the needle and the like. They start drills as young kids at a trot and progress to doing all drills at a lope. My daughter joined it when she was 11 as a way to be near and ride horses consistently. Pretty good deal actually, $25.00 annual dues and $10.00 per ride to rent one of the over 100 string horses. There are between 800 and 1,000 kids in the organization at any given time.

It is also a great social organization for the parents. You make friends and have a couple hours every Saturday to chat. Well, my “friends” heard that my daughter was looking for a horse and one them pointed out an ad for a horse. A Polish Arabian gelding that was selling for $5,000 but had been marked down to $1,000. I agreed to go look at the horse.

The lady who owned the horse had already decided not to sell it but then she met my daughter. She liked my daughter and spent several days horseback riding with her. Turns out, the horse was amazingly well trained and a temperament that makes him patient with first time riders yet willing to go for an advanced rider. Dang. A great horse. When a “knows nothing about horses” type like myself can recognize a good horse its time to call in the vet for a vet check. He passed with flying colors. My daughter had $900 saved up and I am faced with a choice. Take the legalistic way out and say she doesn’t have enough money or give her the final $100 and honor my promise. I says to myself, “Self, how bad can it be to own a horse? Not all that bad.” So I loan her the money and as a good father and a good Christian, I honor the promise. She bought the horse. It’s in her name! It is her horse. Here is Beamer's new mom meeting Beamer for the first time.

Okay. Now it’s time to take the horse home. How do you get a horse home? A trailer. But I am a city boy and I have no trailer. I have never towed a trailer. The thought of backing a trailer scares me. But I promised. So off to Craigslist to search for a

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