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One of the most fulfilling and rewarding fruits of our move back to Ashland has been the way in which it has allowed me to support our beautiful daughter Arayla (12.5) in truly devoting and committing herself even more fully to her longtime Equestrian passion. At Westport Stables in Talent, Oregon, a Hunter/Jumper training facility, Arayla has been given an incredible riding teacher, Wendy Krohn, who nurtures our girl’s growing confidence and mastery, tracking her carefully with skillful and enthusiastic feedback.
 
Arayla has also, for the first time in her 7 years of riding, been given the opportunity to bond deeply with an individual pony we’ve been leasing, named Starbuck. The beautifully mutual love between them has deepened her riding skills perhaps more than anything else. (How moving it is to witness an animal love my daughter so much that he clearly strives to delight her!) She’ll be outgrowing him soon, and looking for another beautiful horse with whom to learn and grow.
 
Horseback riding would never have been the passion I would have chosen for my daughter, not only for the obvious expense and time commitment, but mostly for the purely selfish reality of how miserably allergic I am to horses, and so how sadly this constrains my capacity to show up and witness her as often as we both would like. But what an amazing and perfect arena it’s been for her to grow~ athletically, emotionally, spiritually~ in discipline, self-confidence, perseverance, and focus. Because of how empathic horses are, Arayla has had to learn to contain her immense emotionality, to center and breathe, to expand her sensitivity, listening and communication skills with another species, learning such gorgeous respect in partnering with a large, powerful animal.
 
As heartbreaking as it’s been to be allergic to my beloved daughter’s passion, I can’t help but notice the poignancy and perfection in the way this allows her ample space to individuate into her own world; to love a life that has nothing to do with her mother; to grow and thrive under the wise, guiding eyes, hands and mirrors of other mentors.
 
As Arayla blossoms and gallops rapidly towards womanhood, bravely opening her heart to the unique ways Life calls upon her many astounding gifts, I stand on the sidelines, yes, sometimes sneezing and wheezing, yet with my heart overflowing with joy, awe, and tender pride.
 
What an utterly gorgeous assignment: to set our children up so they can set themselves free. 

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