Ben is a kid that loves horses so we decided it was high time to visit a dude ranch. We ran across the lovely Jandana Ranch outside of Kamloops, BC during our research and booked one of their cabins for the night.
We pulled in just as they were letting the horses out to pasture in front of the house.
In addition to the equines, the ranch was also host to a few donkeys, alpacas, chickens, and assorted barn kitties and dogs. There was also a play structure and a soccer ball. Kid heaven, right?
The next morning Ben carefully selected a pair of cowpoke boots and trotted off to meet his instructor.
His lesson was 30 minutes long and included a little getting-to-know-you time with his horse Charlie.
But after about 30 seconds of petting, Ben announced to his (fantastic) instructor Alex that he was ready to ride. Get this kid in the saddle.
I always think of Ben being a big kid...until you see him on a horse. And then he looks tiny! They had a hard time finding a helmet small enough for his little pea head.
But those small details won’t keep a horse man from enjoying his ride.
Whoa, nelly! Ben even got to do a little trail riding, which was definitely the highlight of the morning.
Good boy, Charlie. Thank you for not dumping my tyke on the ground.
As we were packing up to go, I watched from the window as my outgoing kid tried to introduce himself to a bevy of older girls. There were six of them and they ranged in age from five to seven years old. They were playing Red Rover and I could tell that Ben was interested in joining the game.
But they wanted nothing to do with him.
This was the first time that I’ve ever seen him completely shut down, socially. The ringleader loudly proclaimed: “Get away from us you dirty boy!” and the rest of the girls joined in with their mutual disdain. As his mama, it hurt to watch.
I didn’t feel like I could force them to let him join the game but I was about to go out and offer to play soccer with him until I saw the old lady in the next cabin march out onto the field. She loudly and completely dressed down the worst offender. She too, had clearly had been viewing the proceedings from her porch and wasn’t going to stand for any bullying on her watch.
Six subdued little girls quickly loaded themselves into their suburban for the ride home while the sweet lady tried to perk up my little son.
Somehow I’d managed to forget how cruel life on the playground can be. I was both the aggressor and the victim at various times in my growing-up life but a part of me wants so desperately to shield my kid from the hurt that comes from social ostracization. Kids, even young ones, can be so mean.
We cheered him up with a few snacks and the promise of bears and a boat ride. Almost as good as horse riding, right?
Next up: The promised bears and boats.
Canada Road Trip