Riding Maya to School

“What time do you want Maya here?” Julie, Maya’s mom, was looking a little frazzled. I looked at her blankly. “Deb, what time do you want Maya here!” Now she was getting irritated. Besides managing medical care for an aging relative, she was getting the family ready to head out for Tahoe (Memorial Day Weekend) the next day. I didn’t know that at that moment, but it did take a minute or two to remember that I had promised we’d ride to school together as a birthday present for her. (Maya turns 11 on the 28th.)

I really hadn’t expected Maya to help me at all. Like most students, I’d expected to show up at her house and have her stumble out bleary eyed and be wobbly on the horse all the way to school. Julie said she’d bring her at 7:30 to the barn. At 7:25, there, indeed, was Maya; dressed, perky and ready to go. Good thing too as it was me who was still in a fog.

The two crowd compatible horses are Freedom and Velvet. Freedom is a chestnut and white paint; Velvet a brown and white paint and in such capacity they are both quite stunning in appearance.

I’ve walked the horses down Los Altos Ave. on several occasions, but never at 8am. There were five times as many cars as I’m accustomed to on that street, but the traffic was sedate enough and it didn’t bother the horses. Clearly, the fog had not lifted for any of the drivers yet as, most unusually, no one seemed to take note of our presence.

But then we approached the school. Two blocks from Santa Rita Elementary, the children started streaming in, with cries of joy and delight and the most unexpected and lovely sight appeared.

We arrived surrounded by a small mob. Figuring that the cars were already moving slowly and that the kids were trained to stay on the side walk and out of the parking lot, we rode the horses through the “drop off” zone. We did stop while what seems like thousands of young hands (OK, maybe only a couple dozen), patted and stroked Velvet and Freedom. (All the kids are unbelievably polite and careful.) At one point one of the parents commented on how luck Maya was to be able to bring her pet to school. In response, Maya’s dad said, “That’s not an animal. It’s a vehicle!”, which is better way of thinking of it because nobody who knows better ever refers to a horse as a pet.

I think Maya really enjoyed her self; she was smiling ear to ear. I know that on the drive up to Tahoe this afternoon, she’ll be thinking about horses not skiing and wishing she was riding around in the hills.

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