|Sabrina couldn't wait to get going|
"Max, I know if you go for a ride you'll like it," I said.
I'd spoken with TJ and Scott, the stable managers, and they had been completely receptive to accommodating Max—they said they were used to working with kids with disabilities. Two wranglers stood by to help Max get onto the horse. I helped them get one leg in a stirrup and then up and over he went, sniffling sadly. They lead Max off for a walk around the corral; when he came around toward me he had a big smile on his face, helmet slightly askew but looking good. Nobody was holding his arm, which I thought was strange—he needed support. Or at least I thought he did.
"More!" he said. Only one of the staffers was walking away.
"Wait, don't you need both of you for a ride?" I asked.
"No, he's good," said the wrangler leading the horse.
"Er, OK," I said, dubiously. My heart beat faster as Max moseyed away.
"Please make sure he stays balanced!" I shouted and the guy nodded. I felt a strong urge to yell "STOP!" because I was so scared Max would fall off the horse without hands to hold him up.
I did not tear my eyes away from them the entire time they were on the walk, this time a longer one down a path. Max has pretty good balance but all the way up there? As the horse, gentle as it was, swayed him?
It wasn't Max who had lost his nerve, it was me. I am used to being there for him—too used to being there for him, perhaps.
When they returned, Max had an even bigger grin on his face. Relief flooded through me. His body was a wee bit off balance but he looked comfortable up there, secure and proud of himself.
Over the next few days, Max took several more rides and he held the reins; a staffer held onto the horse but Max steered. The highlight of our stay was when Max and Dave went out for a ride, because there's nothing more Max loves than an adventure with Daddy.
Like two cowboys on the range, they ambled off and I watched, happily.