Does Your Toddler Have a Bucket List? Crossing off Horseback Riding at Alisal Guest Ranch

Horse Riding at Alisal Guest Ranch

Unknowingly, I’ve been creating a bucket list for Athena. She looks at travel destinations and activities with me and her comments and excitement determine a lot more than I realized.  Her recent interest in petting, holding, and interacting with animals led to our weekend at Alisal Guest Ranch. At the Alisal Bard Yard, children can be lead on horseback around the corral. I had no idea that children Athena’s age, and even younger, could ride on a horse and the opportunity was too good to pass up. At only 3 hours away from us, Alisal Guest Ranch was a good weekend getaway option. Plus, we could cross riding a horse off Athena’s bucket list; and if it was something she truly enjoyed, we could explore the possibilities in more depth. 

I worried that she would be nervous or that I was expecting too much from her. Could she ride the horse on her own? Could she hold on by herself? Should I hold her? I realized that worrying didn’t change or help anything. What was going to happen, would happen whether I worried or not. We’d manage the situation naturally. If she needed more support, I could provide it and if she was fine, I could back off. As a parent, letting her grow up and be independent is a struggle. I want to hold on for dear life; feel needed. I can imagine it will only get more difficult as she gets older.

Horse Ride at Alisal Guest Ranch

After our morning Hay Wagon Ride, we walked over to the corral and noticed a line. It gave me more confidence to see other parents with younger and older children riding the horse. It’s like when I want to jump off a high cliff into unknown waters. I’m never the one to go first or even second, but after watching two or three other people successfully emerge from the dark waters unharmed and smiling, I’m all for jumping in. I can only hope that Athena will learn to test the waters for herself. Until then, I’ll do it for her.

Riding a Horse at Alisal Guest Ranch

Darren put her up on the horse and held on to her as I guided the horse around the corral. Within a minute, he let go. I don’t think I could have done it so quickly but he was confident that she was holding onto the saddle and sitting comfortably.

Horse Ride at Alisal Ranch

She was smiling and giggling as the horse gracefully moved around in the open air. With her curly hair blowing in the wind and her long legs draped over the horse, I saw a little girl and not a baby. I don’t know when it happened. How did she make the transition? How did we get to this point of less dependence?

Riding a Horse at Alisal Guest Ranch

Athena may only be two and a half years old, but she knows what she wants and what brings her true joy. She’s old enough to decide for herself what adventures she’d like to experience and I’d like to continue providing her the opportunities to experience them.

Do you have a child? Do they have a list? Imagine what we could accomplish if we started thinking about our dreams and goals at such a young age. The world is full of possibilities; let’s see them at a different level.

19 thoughts on “Does Your Toddler Have a Bucket List? Crossing off Horseback Riding at Alisal Guest Ranch

  1. I quite agree with you. My son is a professional freerunner and my daughter is training to become a divemaster in Thailand. 21 & 19 respectively and letting go doesn’t get any easier-just happens on a deeper level!


  2. I love her smiles in all the different activities you’ve shared with us! Horse back riding is a favorite sport of mine although my riding was limited. I find myself smiling as I read and view your pictures! 🙂


  3. I have two children and two step-children and the youngest is now 20. They certainly have dreams, but I’m not sure if they have lists. It’s never too young to start. My dream as a child was to travel to Europe and it took me many years to do so but my dream finally came true, and I make European trips as often as I can and enjoy every minute of them!


  4. I love this idea. I’m a bucket list fan myself and I think my eldest is becoming one too (obviously not knowing what s bucket list is). He loves a challenge and trying all things new. It gives me such joy to watch. Love this post.


  5. Aww. Your daughter looks so happy. I don’t have kids, but even I marvel and feel pangs over how quickly they grow up. I think about my cousin’s daughters and it seems like such a short time ago when they were precious “bundles of joy,” and now they’re about the same height as I am.


  6. I have a girlfriend with a daughter who is about to turn 3, but the little girl has a medical condition which causes her to not grow. She is about the size of a normal 1 year old. But even so, that kid has no fear or reservations. She always wants to ride the horse, and each time wants to go faster. Holding on is not an option. Her mother has the same issue with learning to let go, but this little girl is forcing her to do it. It is quite precious to watch. But beware too many horse rides! Horses are a pricey (but very satisfying) hobby to take up – take it from someone who knows! 🙂


  7. My 5 year old told me recently that he wanted to go in a shark cage, which made me consider putting together a bucket list of his wishes (which also includes a trip to Japan and learning how to snorkel). It’s fun what kids dream up and I think it helps when they have adventurous parents who are willing to get out of their own comfort zone on occasion.


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