My niece Lila Mae just turned five. She’s an enchanting old soul, fey and wise, shy and uncannily aware. As her “Aunt Mimi,” I get to indulge her, all the while wiggling the key to her big little heart in the hopes of getting inside.
Luckily for me, Lila Mae loves horses. Although physically cautious in most situations, she’s not afraid of horses. Far from it. She lights up at the sight of them and doesn’t hesitate to be hoisted aboard. Maybe it’s just auntly pride, but I swear she has a natural seat. She settles into the saddle with ease, her back straight, her small frame swaying gently with the horse’s movement.
Recently a family contingent visited Fiore Farms, giving me the opportunity to play my trump card with Lila Mae: offering her a ride on Mystic. She accepted with a radiant smile and a check-in glance at her mother—my sister Abigail, who also loves horses. Thumbs up all around.
With her fuchsia helmet, flowery skirt, and cowgirl boots, Lila Mae cut a fine figure. Mystic carried her gently, taking small careful steps, clearly aware that he was bearing precious cargo.
I led them to a nearby pasture and let Lila Mae enjoy her first ride on rolling hills thick with spring grass. A gaggle of Seymours captured the moment with their cameras, lining up at the fence like paparazzi behind velvet ropes at the Cannes film festival.
When the time came to swing Lila Mae off Mystic, she looked crestfallen. I understood exactly how she felt. When I was a little girl, I felt complete on a horse. Stronger, too, and primed for adventure. As author and wild horse activist Helen Thompson writes, “In riding a horse we borrow freedom.”
I look forward to setting up more rides for Lila Mae and ushering her into the horse world, where little girls can borrow freedom and make it their own.