Kids, Dogs and Horses
There are three things in this world that reflect more about you as a person than anything else. They are your own kids, your dog and your horses. These three are mirror reflections of who you are as a person. Children truly are a blessing from God. They are so innocent, and they don’t hold anything back. They have no filter, and they call it like they see it. Everything that you say or do can and will be held against you by your children. Children will copy your every action, if you throw a fit when something doesn’t go your way, don’t get mad when your children follow suit. Manners and respect are things that are taught, but they are not taught with fear. Love and discipline go hand in hand with one another. It is my goal as a father to teach my children right from wrong. I want them to accept responsibility for their actions, and I want them to know they can come to their mother and I anytime they need us. I believe that loving your children means that you correct their behavior when it needs it.
Few things in life aggravate me more than someone whose dog has no manners. The dog that runs off to the neighbor’s house every night and chases their stock, or the one who jumps up on people are just two examples that come to mind. Like children, dogs reflect their owners. Dogs are a predator animal. This means that they need to view their owner as the alpha. If it is the other way around, that is when trouble happens. I am no master dog whisperer, but I do know that I expect my dogs to have manners. I expect them to come when they are called, and to stay out of the corral and the calving barn unless I allow them to do otherwise. I have seen some big wrecks with cows in my life, and the root cause of most of them was an ill-mannered dog. Dogs that fear their owners are as bad as those with no manners. Respect and trust are earned with all God’s creatures. As long as these two things take to build, they can be destroyed in an instant.
Horses can be the biggest reflection of a person. They are prey animals which means they have a need for trust. If they see you as a threat, it’s game over. The horse that cannot stand quietly by himself tied to a trailer, or the one who pushes on you while you are trying to do something are dangerous animals. Horses are usually over 1,000 pounds. It is vital that an animal of that size have manners. If you are still riding your 15-year-old rocket donkey in a ring snaffle because he won’t neck rein or come to a stop without you sawing that bit across his mouth, maybe its time to evaluate your skills as a horseman. Remember what I said about respect and trust? You break the trust of a horse, and you may never get it back.
I am by no means the leading expert in parenting, dog training or horsemanship. I do know that all three need to be taught discipline, and that discipline through love is far better than discipline through fear. I am constantly trying to make myself better, and I hope that reflects through the behavior of my children, the manners of my dog, and the calmness of my horses. That’s all for this time. Keep tabs on your side of the barbed wire and God bless.
Meinzer is a fourth-generation rancher raised on the southeastern plains of Colorado. He and his family live and ranch in Oshkosh, Neb.