Horsey Therapist

Saturday, August 19, 2006


No, not Nigerian Dwarf kids, though the summer babies have started arriving. One doeling so far, and three pregnant does.

"Kids" this time means young humans. These are 10 and 11 years old. Young girls wanting to ride, who responded to my ad for horse people wanted to exercise horses in exchange for lessons. This is fun for the most part. Sure, I have to remind them to pay attention to what the horse is feeling and why. And to tell the horse what to do not just tell the horse "no". And to give the horse more slack in the lead rope or the rein. And to ask my permission before trotting or cantering. But well worth the effort and education I'm offering to have their presence here at the farm.

They are good enough riders so my worries about their safety are minimal. They are learning fast and open to what I have to say. I have no idea if what they learn here carries over into other horse time in their lives, but I can hope. They are connected enough to what we are doing that I am letting them struggle more with little things (not really little things, but it's all relative!) like mounting without holding the horse still with the reins. Some ways I have around horses I let slide with them as they were getting used to these horses and to my direction. But now that I see how well they are doing with the basics, I'm leaving more things for them to figure out, with lots of support and reminders that there is no hurry, etc.

Some times they offer to help each other. One is comfortable picking out hoofs for example. One is handy with lowering the horse's head. One has better balance at the canter, the other is more balanced when posting. One is more courageous on the trail, one is more creative in problem solving when I give them a challenge.

They are handling and riding RNB's two horses. When they show me their horse handling skills are a closer match to my expectations and what my horses have come to expect from people, I'll consider letting them handle my horses. I am much more particular than RNB.

Each of his horses has unique quirks. Which create their own unique challenges for these kids. One is friendly, confident, and pushy so intent needs to be backed up with energy. The other is attentive, overly sensitive, and requires us to be quite precise with what we ask and how we ask. I think next time they come I'll have them switch horses, at least for part of the time. They are well matched right now, but will learn by adjusting as needed to the different feel of another horse.

Their availability will change in less than 10 days. School starts and then it's weekends for riding time. I have an adult and her home schooled son coming later this week to meet me and the horses. Both of them sound pretty handy with horses, and if it works out, they may become my riding help and companions for the autumn days.

Lucky me. Lucky horses.


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