There’s nothing unusual about a two-year-old child cuddling a kitten or playing with the family dog. However, seeing a toddler alongside a powerful mustang is a little more out of the ordinary. But Emma Dunn had no fear of walking alongside her horse in 2013.
At one point in Emma and her horse’s journey, however, the reins slipped from the little girl’s little hands and into the snowy ground beneath her. But, as it happens, the mare behind her, Cinnamon, had the most unexpected reaction to her leader’s mistake.
It’s perhaps no surprise that young Emma was so comfortable around horses, though. After all, her dad, Justin, had begun riding as a child and had made horsemanship his career as an adult. Aside from private training, he also led rides for children with cancer.
And, most importantly, Justin worked to build strong friendships and mutual understanding between humans and horses. “Trade places with your horse and treat them the way you would want to be treated,” his website reads.
That sort of respect would go a long way with a mustang such as Cinnamon – the one that Emma led by her reins. The breed is known for being headstrong and willful at first; once mustangs are fully trained, however, they can be a pleasure to ride.
What’s more, Justin had only spent 25 days training Cinnamon before his two-year-old daughter took the horse’s reins. During that time, though, Emma and the mustang had forged a close link, according to a 2014 report from Tulsa radio station KRMG.
And Emma and Cinnamon’s friendship is evident in a video that Justin shared to his business’ Facebook page. There, the toddler is seen in a puffy pink snowsuit and holding her beloved horse’s reins. Then at the beginning of the footage, Justin is heard asking, “What’s that horse’s name?”
But while Emma tries her best, she can’t quite articulate all of the syllables in her horse’s name. Perhaps as a result, her dad steps in to provide some clarification. “That’s Cinnamon?” he said, to which Emma answers with a defiant, “Yeah!”
Then Justin asks, “Are you going to bring her up here to the house?” And with that, Emma starts walking, reins still in hand. Then, although Cinnamon hesitates for a second, she eventually begins following her leader at a slow trot. And with each of her steps, the swish of the two-year-old’s snowsuit is audible.
As Emma walks, though, she gets quicker and quicker, which causes her dad to issue a warning to his tiny daughter. “Go slow so you don’t trip,” Justin advises. Emma responds by looking back at Cinnamon and letting out a happy squeal.
“You like that horse?” Emma’s dad then asks her, likely knowing what his daughter’s answer would be. “Yeah, her name’s Cinnamon,” Emma says, pronouncing her horse’s name without the second syllable. That’s when the two-year-old lost a bit of her control over the horse’s reins.
“Stop right there,” Justin advises the toddler. As she stops, however, Cinnamon does the same – and this causes Emma to tangle the reins. Somehow, she has a strap wrapped around her tiny leg.
When Emma finally gets herself untangled from the reins, though, she tries to pick the long rope up from its middle. But, again, her dad provides a little bit of wisdom to help his daughter lead Cinnamon safely. “Nope,” he calls, “Pick them up so she doesn’t step on them.”
And when her leader had dropped her reins, Cinnamon could have taken off or kept walking on her own. Instead, she sweetly stands by and watches as Emma fumbles while scooping up the reins then finally gets back onto her feet.
Once Emma has a handle on the reins, though, Justin gives her the green light to start walking again. Nevertheless, he also tells his two-year-old to “stay on the road” as she continues on her way toward the family’s home.
And, apparently, Emma and Cinnamon’s sweet trek through the snow was exemplary of the relationship between the pair. That’s according to the little girl’s dad, who wrote in a Facebook post when he shared the video, “These two had and still have a special bond. Cinnamon Girl LOVES her Emma.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the adorable video of Emma and Cinnamon connected with a lot of people across the internet, too. Justin’s original post sharing the video has 86,000 shares, for instance, while a separate upload of the clip on YouTube has garnered more than 4.8 million views.
Since then, Justin has continued to share videos of his horses on Facebook, and many of the clips feature Emma as she grows up alongside her extra-large pets. In footage from 2018, she and her dad are even seen conducting a live chat with their followers about – what else – horses.
And, as it happens, the two gave an update on Cinnamon’s relationship with Emma during that conversation. “A lot of you’ve asked how Emma’s doing and how Cinnamon’s doing,” Justin says in the video. Before he can respond completely, though, Emma answers for him with her hands. “They’re both double thumbs-up,” her dad says in response to his daughter’s signal.
In the same video, Emma also tries to imagine her life without horses. The then-seven-year-old explains, however, “I wouldn’t feel any happier. I’d be always miserable.” Then she and her dad confirm something that viewers have known all along. “We love our horses,” Justin says.