The mare I bought in late 2012, O, had a lot to live up to under saddle and on the ground. One of her selling points was that literally anyone could handle her. Camp kids to grandparents, she was a peach to be around. Then I snagged the amazing lease on Dee, who again, was a complete saint. She allowed my crying infant to “lunge” her (she cried in baby carrier while I lunged), groom her, share food, whatever. Even the big grey draft I rode in between available horses loved kids, and handled my daughter’s “affection” with grace.
Essentially my daughter has had full rein of the horses I spent substantial amount of time with, with very few consequences. They’ve put up with the eye pokes, the yells, the constant noises and God knows what else that should’ve terrified them.
All of them, except for Cooper.
My current ride, who is a fantastic guy, is teaching me a lot about the holes in my training, so this is not a black mark on his record. I’m asking a lot honestly. But…Cooper hates my daughter. Maybe hate isn’t the right term…he is not her biggest fan. He doesn’t understand her noises, he hates the invasive little fingers when she pets him and generally he would rather her stay about 10 miles away from him at any given time. He’s not mean about it, but when you’re over 17 hands and not naturally graceful…it’s a recipe for disaster.
It doesn’t change much for me, except for the fact that I won’t take my daughter to the barn alone while I’m riding him. He’s plenty enough horse to keep track of, without wondering if my daughter is annoying him. Again, not his fault, it just won’t be fun for anyone. It does create a bit of a hiccup in my usual riding schedule, but we are working on it. Lately my Dad has been coming out to watch and wrangle said child while I hack or lesson. I’m very lucky to have that as an option.
So I guess what I’m saying is: Cooper, I’m really sorry buddy, she’ll still be around…but I’ll make sure that she keeps her distance if you keep yours. *If not, there’s me or my 6’2” Dad to act as buffer between the two of them.* This hasn’t changed my views on having my daughter at the barn, I do believe that children have to learn how to behave in many different circumstances. I work very hard to create situations where both horse and child can have mutual success.
While there is not judgement on Cooper’s part, there is a major learning curve that continues to form any future horse in my mind. I never would expect any horse to babysit a toddler, because that’s never going to work, but it’s my hope that my next lease or purchase will be more keen on having kids around.
So what do you think? Do you consider your horse child friendly?