We became grandparents for the second time last week. Lucas Eugene Lauck came into the world weighing a little over 7 pounds and measuring around 20 inches long. I forget how tiny a newborn is! Lucas’ sister Ella has struggled through the transition of sharing her mother with this new responsibility. Her mom and dad had done a great job of preparing her for what they knew was coming but, the reality of the situation was more than anyone could have prepared her for.
Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance talked often about preparing the horse to position for the transition. Watching Ella, who is a bright and willing child, struggle with the actual transition into sisterhood made me wonder if I am actually doing all I can to prepare my young horses for what’s coming next. And, for a young child or young horse with no experiences in their short life to fall back on, what would I use to help them prepare. I believe that the answer is ME!
Our daughter, Liz, is a fantastic mother. She’s smart about how she engages Ella and she spends a lot of time thinking about being a mother. She’s figuring out what works with Ella and what doesn’t. Fortunately, Liz married a smart, hard-working guy and together they decided that Liz would be a stay-at-home mom. That gives Liz a chance to spend time with Ella and build her awareness of what kinds of things help Ella. Let’s face it, it’s hard to help a youngster be comfortable with all the new things they are constantly being exposed to. Through all of the new exposures, Liz is the constant in Ella’s life, the one who helps her through the rough spots when her lack of experience gives her nothing else to fall back on. Ella can rely on Liz to help her!
A big part of preparing a horse for transitions and exposure to new things is getting them to rely on their human to help them through the rough spots. It gets tricky sometimes because many times it’s the human that is creating the exposure. We have to create the exposure in one moment and be the one who helps our horse through the uncertainty in the next moment. If we are successful, our horse will feel us helping instead of feeling like we are attacking. The more time we can spend becoming the sure thing in our horses life, the better our horses will learn to transition smoothly and with more confidence.
Thanks Liz for the great lesson in working with youngsters!