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Horsin' Around: Best Christmas present for the world

It is not often that I write about kids these days. I am not a mom and even modern medical science cannot add grandchildren to a missing middle generation. I worked with kids for years teaching them to ride and care for horses and I enjoyed that relationship. Children have a spontaneity that can be both hilarious and unsettling if you are feeling a little self-important. They are good what ails us if we pay attention.

My feeling is that horses are important to a kid for a lot of reasons. The first thing is that (and don't everyone jump up and holler at me) horses are actually living anachronisms. This world would probably get along pretty well with no horses at all. That makes it even more important that horses be kept around - just because we small humans don't understand the necessity of horses to the world doesn't mean that the grand plan of someone a lot smarter than us isn't still keeping a place for them.

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I sincerely believe in my own ignorance of that someone's grand plan and I am always willing to give over to it.

The second reason is that horses, most of them, are pretty good Joes. They are companionable, sensible and usually honest. It is good for a kid - or an adult - to be able to interact with creatures which have no hidden agendas. It shows us how to act, for one thing.

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Horses take lots of care. People need to get outside of themselves and provide care for other creatures, human or animal. It is good to put someone or something ahead of yourself in this life. It makes you a better person in the long run.

And if you want to exercise there is no better exercise than riding a horse. Simply cleaning stalls and grooming will do a lot for your core muscles alone but the riding is doggone nearly the perfect whole-body exercise, combining a complete mental and physical workout.

I have to admit that these days I like little kids more than teenagers but I see good kids of all ages around me most of the time. Sadly some kids are of what I call the 'thoroughly-avoidable' type but it becomes almost instantly apparent that their actions are engendered by a lack of parenting which is sad because probably the kids would have been much better in different circumstances.

The kind of kids that I like the most are the ones who can actually speak in whole sentences. I don't like being grunted at in monotones by anyone in answer to honest questions and no one of any age likes to be treated like an unwelcome visitor to this planet. Especially when we were here first, come to think of it.

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I also like kids who are gung ho about something. Kids should be really into things. Life is new to them and they ought not to be jaded about it. A jaded kid or one who feels the need to be supercilious and condescending needs to go get a life that they can be enthusiastic about. That goes double for adults, by the way. I don't even care if the kid is diametrically opposed to what I have decided is important. Who am I to dictate opinions and values? As long as they are FOR something, it's all good.

Now, this is where I may lose some friends. I like rodeo. I was watching the National Finals Rodeo the other night and I got into the miniature bull riding for kids. Wow, was I impressed! Not only that some folks have bred bulls down to kid size (if you have not seen them, think pony-sized bulls with seriously bad attitudes) but that there are kids as young as eight- years old that were tough enough to get on them and stay there for anywhere from a couple of bucks to the whole eight seconds.

The thing that really blew me away was that after each ride those kids were interviewed for the show on live television. The kids were still catching their breath from the rides but they were exquisitely polite - saying, "Yes, ma'am", "No, ma'am" and "Thank you, ma'am" - and giving intelligent reasons for what happened during their rides. Taking the fault for a fall, giving credit to the bull (!) for being a tough ride and thanking the NFR for the opportunity to get bucked off a bull. The kids were not chatty, just intelligently responsive and very well spoken.

Somewhere out there people are doing a great job of raising kids. I am impressed and hopeful for the future if there are still really good kids being raised; I can't think of a better Christmas present for the world than good kids coming along.

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