Roger Thompson: Horsin’ Around
Fort Collins, Colo.
Well it was a full house around my out fit last week when my daughter, husband and two grand daughters visited for a few days. They are very good girls going into their teens. But finding something to keep them busy is a chore. So we watched a bunch of video tapes that I have saved up over the years because it was hot during the day. In the evening, when it was cooling down they were out side messing with my dog, Dodge, or just messing around while my son-in-law, Eric, fired up the grill and cooked steak, fish or chicken.
The oldest, Jessica, loves horses and wants to ride. They live in Los Vegas, Nev., and don’t have any place to be around horses, so it is always a pleasure for her to come to grandpa’s and mess with the horses. My horses are gentle so I let them go into the corral and pet them. But the youngest, Cassandra, is afraid of them. So I had to make sure they were safe when they went into the arena. My daughter, Lisa, was around horses when she came to live with me after graduating from high school but never did really take to the life with horses.
My son-in-law, Eric, discovered my log pile and spent time in the evening splitting wood. He grew up in Alaska and was right at home with a splitting maul and I was willing to let him tackle this chore to help me. My daughter spent time in the kitchen making salad and fixing something to go along with the steaks for supper. Then the two girls cleaned the dishes to put in the dishwasher after supper and we would all sit down to watch a movie.
Grandpa didn’t have much to do, with the family around and got spoiled. Nevertheless I hoped they were all enjoying themselves. When they left to drive down to Albuquerque to visit Eric’s mother and one of Lisa’s old friend’s, it was a jolt to me being left alone. However I sure enjoyed the visit and Dodge felt it as well since they took their two little dogs – it is so quiet around here.
But I found myself wishing they lived closer, if for no other reason than for Jessica. I have taught horsemanship most of my life and saw that she took to horses like a duck takes to water. When you find a student like that you want to pour everything you know into teaching them. I wanted to teach them about handling baby horses. Teach them foals are like small children. Their attention span is very short and they learn best with reward for appropriate behavior not punishment.
Young horses, like children, show joy by running, jumping, bucking and kicking up their heels. Often a soft word is better then harshness. After all, the colt is doing a natural thing, so don’t punish and have him lose confidence. Putting on a halter is the first lesson, then turning him away from and toward your body. Show the come-along method for reluctant colts. Then ask a colt to halt by verbal commands and then to walk and trot on voice commands with light and frequent tugs on the lead rope.
So many things I wanted to teach my grand daughters but three or four days is not enough time, and I had to give them some basic knowledge about riding and let it go at that.
Prior to his retirement, Roger Thompson was a CHA certified instructor of advanced Western horsemanship and beginning English riding.
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