So, today Kelly got to cross a big item off her Bucket List (assuming she knew what a bucket list was, and she'd written one, I know that this would be pretty high up on the list. Hypothetically speaking, of course).
We were down in Gilroy, where Nate was attending the birthday party of one of his classmates. This boy lives on a Polo Pony Ranch.
Yeah. I had to do a double-take on that one, too.
Anyways. Totally ordinary, wonderful folks. Apart from all the horse paraphernalia and trophies littering (tastefully) the house, you'd never know they were Polo Folk. At first, I was worried I might have to wear a summer day-dress, and maybe a hat (or a fascinator, depending on the formality, don't you know). I wasn't sure what the dress code was when visiting a Polo ranch.
Turns out it's mud boots, and comfy clothes.
So the invitation says "Bring a swim suit for the pool, and a helmet if you'd like to ride a horse", Nate grabs a bike helmet, and Kelly (who isn't invited, but Gilroy is far away, and I'm not leaving her at home alone) says "I'll just bring my helmet... just in case..."
Oh, and she also showed up in the van wearing her new jodhpurs. "To break them in... you know... for the next time I get to go riding... they'll be ready" (ps: Target is now carrying riding trousers. And they're cheap like borscht. $15. You can't buy a half a leg on a pair of riding pants at any of the English Riding places around here. Hello, tangent. Let's get this train back on the rails...)
So we get out to the ranch where the party is going to be, and find out that it's not high-brow, hoity-toity, as I was worried about. Just ordinary people, hanging out around the pool under the palm trees, and dodging the horse poops.
They bring out two of the ponies for the kids to ride. One's got a saddle, and one's got a bareback saddle-pad. The kids line up (there's not a lot of kids - it's a long drive, and only 3 other families from Nate's class made the trek), and they start riding.
The birthday boy's mom is a pretty fancy-pants rider herself, and is competing at the international level it turns out. We get to talking, and she looks at Kelly, and says "Well, it looks like you came here to ride too, honey."
I'm kind of mortified, because this party is for Nate's buddy, and his buddy's friends, and Kelly really is just a spectator. And she knows it, and says "I can ride, but this is your son's party, so his friends should come first."
I trained her well. But she was like one of those dogs sitting there twitching while you put a big old doggy-treat on his nose and said "Stay.... stay...."
The mom says "I have an idea... hold on..." and she motions over to someone, and says something that I don't really parse. Then she looks at Kelly and says "You'll like this. Hold on..."
All the little kids (Nate is the oldest of the kids riding the ponies. He was in a split class last year, and the party is for one of the younger boys in the class, who has invited the younger kids - and kids the grade below him, too) are sitting on the ponies, and being led around by the polo teacher, who is walking them around a loop under the trees in the shade. Another instructor brings out this glorious chestnut gelding. "Put a bridle on Hoover, will you?" says the mom, "Kelly's going to ride him, and she doesn't need to be led."
So "Hoover" gets tacked up, and brought over to Kelly.
He's a really magnificent horse.
As Kelly is walking around on him, the mom leans over to me. "Hoover's quite the horse. I bet Kelly's never ridden a Derby winner before..."
Turns out Hoover's run in the Kentucky Derby. He didn't win it, but I did some digging (because I'm all Googly like that - Google+, in fact), and found out that he did win the Golden Gate Derby in 2001.
So, Kelly. Get out your bucket list, and put a big black line through "Ride a Derby Winning Horse".
And then go tell Carrie (the friend who always has to be better, stronger, faster than you) that you've ridden a race horse.
For Kelly, though, it may have been more important that the mom said "You know, Kelly, you can come out here any old time. We have SO MANY HORSES that need to be ridden, and just not enough people to ride them..."
Um, you don't need to tell her twice.
We'll be going out to Woodside Horse Park next week to watch the mom compete in Reining By The Bay. And we may just let her know, at that time, what Kelly's 'availability' will be for the rest of the summer. You know. If she needs someone to come ride the horses...