Like A Child

I think it’s very funny
The way a puppy grows–
A little on his wiggle-tail
A little on his nose,
A little on his tummy,
And a little on his ears;
I guess he’ll be a dog all right
In half a dozen years.
Leroy F. Jackson

That poem came to mind when I was watching my youngest student play with Little Bit. He is so natural with her he doesn’t realize he is learning a new language. He bounces from one thing to the next with the energy and attention span of a six-year-old, or a puppy. He is not thinking about applying the seven games or avoiding tangling himself up in the rope and carrot stick.

A day goes like this:
Feed horses – friendly; anything that causes the horse to want to be with you or continue doing what you asked them to do
Prevent LB from eating Mint’s food – driving; rhythmic motion to move the horse
Scratch and halter LB – friendly game
Once haltered LB follows him everywhere at a walk and trot
Remember carrot stick and go back to the tack room for it – friendly and porcupine; steady pressure to cause the horse to move
Pretend to mount LB bareback – friendly
Slide down the slide while LB watches from near the end of the 12′ line – friendly game
See if LB will back under the slide (her withers and back fit with less than two inches to spare) – driving, squeeze, and yo-yo; back and forth on a straight line
Ask LB to walk under the slide and branch supporting it (She fits, but only with her head down) – yo-yo and squeeze; going over, under, between, or through
Scratch and hug – friendly
Run to the bridge and back up – yo-yo
Circling game in the pasture; asking a horse to take responsibility for going in a circle
Get saddle out
Find and play with ball, put on LB and hit the ball off – friendly game
More circling game
Ask LB to sniff saddle – friendly, driving
Play soccer around yard with ball – friendly
Start rubbing legs to see if she is ok with her feet being handled – friendly
More soccer – friendly
Sat for a few moments on the ball to get his wind back – friendly
Show dad he can saddle by himself – friendly
Show LB she can now reach the mineral feeder (The footing was raised 8+ inches while they were playing) – porcupine, friendly
Bring back to the herd and take halter off – porcupine
Hang out with herd – friendly
During and between he leaned on her when he was tired, or trying to think of something, sang, ran around with his arms going crazy; all friendly things that will build a strong relationship between them.

He thinks he is playing, but he is really learning. This week the saddle went on on the second try. They got a full circle at a trot. She was more comfortable with him. She followed without dragging. He caused her to sniff something on the first try. He haltered her even if he did get the halter inside out. He used the rope and carrot stick like they were part of him. Every time they are together they improve. A wise man once said, you don’t get better by doing 1 thing 100% better, you get better by doing 100 things 1% better. They are more than 1% better this week.

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