Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hot Horses and Parenting

I trained horses for nearly 10 years when I first arrived in the Pacific Northwest.

I managed two stables during that time, giving a full slate of riding lessons each week, training clients' horses, and training my own. I showed some, too, in the summers.

Over the years, I learned that I was pretty good with the "Steady Eddies," the generally compliant equines happy to be doing my bidding and eager to get on with the program -- typically the quarter horses, Trakehners, and crossbreds.

I had to really work at training the thoroughbreds, Arabians, and other hot horses. In my mind, it was clear what I wanted, but those buggers usually had other ideas -- and were often distracted by a leaf on the other side of the paddock.

Over the years, I learned that I'd get a lot further with them if I let them dance around beneath me and bounce in the direction I wanted them to go.

If I relaxed enough to let them learn that way, they often performed a lot better than my Steady Eddies in the barn. If I tensed up and came to loggerheads with them, they got sweaty, I got sweaty, and no one accomplished anything anytime soon.

So I've been thinking about 2-year-old Arabs and thoroughbreds lately when I watch my 9-year-old spin beneath the ceiling fan for as much apparent reason as the colt who shied at the shadow. I occurs to me that the same light touch with those horses may be just the ticket when it comes to guiding her through childhood. Hopefully, no one will get too sweaty.

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