Sometimes we become intensely aware of how much our role as riders and trainers of horses crosses over into something very much akin to parenting. From the outside, a 16 year old, 17 hand, warmblood might have very little in common with a young child, but experience begs to differ. We do everything to mold our own little "angel" equines into well behaved members of the dressage community, but at some point things generally go awry. Luckily, just when mom or dad is feeling worn down our horses know how to reel us back in with a loving look that we hope runs deeper than carrots. Much like their young human counterparts, more often than not - they've got our number.
Here's our case as to why horses may in fact be 1200 pound toddlers.
1. They Don't Want To Get In The Car
You're running late and your gelding refuses to load on the trailer. You coax, you ask nicely, you promise food and toys once they get inside. It's not enough. They can either get in themselves, or you can help them get in. It can be the Rolls Royce of trailers but that doesn't mean anything when your two, or a horse.
2. The Tantrums
The tantrums. For no reason. Yesterday there was no opposition. You had an willing partner as you schooled canter half passes. Today the suggestion is downright offensive. There's tears. There's head tossing. There's a limited vocabulary but that doesn't matter because the only word your horse needs is "NO".
3. They Relieve Themselves At The Most Inopportune Times.
Again, with the peeing in the cross ties. Need we say more?
4. They Need Their Security Blanket
Just as if mom were to leave the room, if the stablemate leaves to go for a trail ride they cry salty tears of AGONY. At the top of their lungs. There's 10 other horses in the barn answering their wails but it doesn't matter because it's not the grumpy mare from next door.
5. They Don't Like Your Cute Outfits
You get them cute clothes, a beautiful new blanket, nice brushing boots, heck even shoes and as soon as you turn your back they're completely naked. The blanket is thrashed and covered in mud, the brand new shoe is lost somewhere in turnout never to be found again. If only you could grab a new pair of shoes at Target because it's been two days and the farrier isn't answering your calls.
6. Stanger Danger
Stranger Danger manifests itself in new places. Or new plastic bags. New deer. New shadows. Old shadows. Everything unfamiliar, and even some things familiar are cause for concern.
7. They Always Needs A Band-Aid
They can hurt themselves anywhere. The scrape on their leg, the terrifying chunk missing on their muzzle, it's endless. The horse may have been in turnout for 20 minutes covered with everything but bubble wrap, yet you're constantly asking - where did that come from?
8. No Personal Embarrassment
With babies and horses there's zero hesitation about making a scene. Maybe you're on a plane or maybe you're coming down centerline at championships. When they decide they want off this ride and you say the test is only half over, they care not. Shit hits the fan, and there's often an audience to watch you duck and cover. As always, the embarrassment is yours alone.
9. They Demand Your Undivided Attention
While leading your horse just try to stop and talk to a friend for five minutes. Shortly you'll feel the impatient end of a muzzle traveling down your back, next it's in your hair. Finally, an indignant hoof stomps the ground with irritation. It's been 90 seconds but the message is clear - MOM, NOTICE ME!
10. Everything Goes In Their Mouth
The cross ties are essentially a chew toy for your teething Hanoverian. So are your Passier leather reins. Turn your back for an instant and water bottles, your whip, and especially the neighbor horse's brand new blanket are all fair game. Prepare your apology speech immediately as this oral fixation stage won't pass.