I've said for some time that Tristan would be a really terrific little kids' pony someday. Yesterday, I was able to test that theory.
Friends came to visit and stay for a few days with their two year old. On their last visit, we introduced B to Tristan, and he did a little bit of petting and dropped a peppermint in his bucket. I gave him a small Schleich horse that he promptly named Tristan (or, more accurately, "T-Man"). Since then it's become one of his favorite toys and when he visited his grandparents in Amish country a few weeks ago he very excitedly pointed to horses in the fields and informed his grandparents that his Auntie Amanda had a neigh-neigh too, and he would get to pet and ride it when he visited.
So we went to the barn, and B helped to groom him a little bit, and then I put a bridle on and sat on him bareback for a few minutes while B watched. Then B's mom got on and sat on Tristan at the mounting block, and then we put B up in front of her. I had Tris take a few steps at a time ("step up" is one of the best vocal commands I ever taught him) and then we were off at the walk. B's parents stood on either side holding his hands, but eventually we transitioned to B holding the reins and a bit of Tris's mane and I taught him to say "walk" and "whoa" and to ask for left and right. All told, maybe about 10 minutes but he grinned and giggled the whole time. Victory!
I could not possibly have been more thrilled with Tristan. He stood stock-still at the mounting block, flicking his ears back and forth and paying verrrrrrry careful attention to what was going on. He was obviously deeply concerned about the new little person on his back - not in a frustrated or upset sense; he placed every foot sooooo carefully, and was clearly analyzing every balance shift B made to try and help him out. I've noticed this tendency before when my boyfriend has ridden him. Some horses react to inexperienced riders with frustration; Tristan tends to get very concerned and go even more slowly and carefully. He is the absolute best horse I ever could have asked for. I'm so, so proud of him.
Maybe, someday, when I have my farm and my life is a little further along, my own kids will learn to ride on him, too.