Obviously when it comes to kids you want to help as much as you possibly can so on Wednesday we went off to James Maree’s training centre.
We were there for 12-year-old Sihle Botman, who had not ever ridden a horse and always dreamed of becoming a jockey. James provided us with two horses and helped to show Sihle the ropes. Sihle and I dressed up in racing silks and went out to ride.
I was worried the horses would get fresh and dump him but this little guy looked quite comfortable on a horse. We went around the paddock and after a couple of circuits I stood in the irons and joked with him and he tried to follow suit.
He was up in the seat and pushing along at the neck. He sat on the horse very well for somebody who was doing it for the first time and I remarked that looked like a natural.
We had a lot of photographs taken and had some snacks. James Maree donated a crop and I gave him a pair of gloves and a signed a framed set of pictures from years back when I rode a winner for James in Bloemfontein.
It is satisfying to know you are helping somebody but it is also quite sad to come to terms with what a 12-year-old has to deal with. But he had a great day and loved the riding so much we battled to get him off the horse!
One has to give a lot of credit to both Patrick Davis and James Maree for putting the whole thing together.