As I understand it, the term “Cowgirl” derives from “Cowboy,” which, technically, is the nickname of someone who works with cattle as a career.  I guess over the years, it became synonymous with a guy who rode horses, since the horses were originally heavily used in cattle work.  Nowadays, though, the definition of that title seems to be so far removed from its original definition, that I can’t help but wonder if it is appropriate for my little girl, who not only has never been around a cow for more than a few minutes, but doesn’t even know how to ride a horse.  Rather, she dresses in boots and a cowgirl hat (or riding helmet when actually mounted), and rides none other than a donkey (or goat, or sheep, if you have read recent posts).

OK, it’s late, and I think waaaaay too much about pointless stuff anyway.   You’ll just have to forgive me.

Anyway, it seems M has really taken a liking to Shiloh, the donkey, recently.  As a result, she is becoming quite the little rider.  Shiloh is still very green, unfortunately.  We just got her in September of 2011, totally untrained, barely old enough to ride, and in foal. Over the next few months, we introduced her to the basics, but limited our time on her back since we didn’t know her due date.  Eventually, as her belly expanded, she went several months without being ridden at all, as we didn’t want to stress her.  After she finally foaled in May, we gave her several weeks to recover and just be mom.  Then, we went on vacation, and finally, in July, we started working with her again.  Now, we are back to riding.  Shiloh isn’t quite as keen on the idea as we are, and with her foal posing quite the distraction at all times, my time on her back being limited by her size, and my children being beginners themselves, it has not been easy to get her going.  Nonetheless, M has begun to find some enjoyment in riding her, despite the difficulties currently posed.

We have finally gotten her fitted with a saddle so eventually the kids can ride her on the trail, but most of her riding is done bareback.  It seems to be enjoyed more by both burro and rider.  Depending on the amount of time since the last session, I may ride her for a few minutes, just to get her more focused and responding to cues somewhat.  Then, M gets on and rides around the pasture.  The fenced acre-and-a-half or so area has many obstacles such as trees, unlevel ground, ditches, etc, all of which offer challenges to M as she learns to ride.  We use them as tools to focus right now.  For example, Shiloh has certain areas around the pasture that are her “comfort zone,” where she likes to stop and stand there.  I have M focus on a point elsewhere, such as a specific tree, and she has to not only get Shiloh to walk, but to walk in the correct direction.  This is much easier said then done, especially when Shiloh would just as soon spin a full 360, and stop, in order to remain in her spot.  M is learning though, and seems to have the patience of a saint.  This is even more impressive when you consider that M only weighs about 38 pounds, and is rather timid and soft-spoken by nature, meaning it takes a great deal more effort for her to be firm and make Shiloh obey.  Shiloh is a good girl, though, and although she has a stubborn streak and likes to test M, as long as M is consistent, she eventually responds as desired.  Which, in turn, results in a very happy little cowgirl!

Here is a recent video I took of M just bumming around the pasture on Shiloh one day.  Yes, the helmet swallows her.  She was using mine since she misplaced hers.