Riding/Horses

Wyatt Conquers His Fear

Wyatt was given an ultimatum this past weekend: start spending time with Nash or he goes to a new home. It may sound like a harsh thing to do to a 5 year old, but it isn’t fair to Nash to be completely ignored either. Of course, I said it slightly nicer than that explaining to Wyatt that every horse deserves a person and if he won’t be that person than Nash deserves to find someone who will.

Honestly, Wyatt had good reason to start ignoring Nash. Namely, he was scared of him. It began with a bareback ride wherein Dusty decided to ask Nash to trot and Wyatt hit the dirt through no fault of Nash’s as Wyatt just lost his balance. He got back on but was scared. Welcome to the world of riding, Wyatt. Sometimes it hurts.

Look how excited Wyatt is here to give Nash another try. Nash for his part looks less thrilled. 

This was followed a

week later by Nash biting a chunk out of his arm while being led in from the pasture. This was 100% Nash’s fault as Wyatt was doing everything right. Nash got a beating for that. You don’t bite. Period. So now Wyatt was scared to ride and scared to lead.

The final nail in that coffin happened the following week. I was pulling the horses out of the pasture and told Wyatt at least half a dozen times to not stand by the gate. He didn’t listen and as I pulled Nash out he got seriously all out trampled. Thankfully it was Nash and not one of the horses, but the kid now became scared to be anywhere near the pony.

Someday he will learn to have shorter reins. I’m glad we ditched the bit which solved the head tossing issue but still gives Wyatt basic steering and brake control.

It was the perfect storm and I let it ride out hoping he would get over it in time. Except he didn’t and was avoiding Nash at all costs which was unfair to the pony since 2/3rds of the occurrences were all Wyatt’s fault.

That led to my ultimatum. Start being around the guy or he leaves to find a child who wants to be his friend. It didn’t even have to include riding. Just groom him, pick his feet, bring him in from the pasture. Enjoy his company.

We had gone around the one side through the woods and up by the pond. I figured he would be done, but as we stopped in the barn yard he asked to go into the big pasture and ride in there too. 

It worked and renewed Wyatt’s interest in the little devil. Sunday night he wanted to ride. It was too late to tack up, so instead we had him ride Nash bareback out to the pasture after his dinner. Which led to him asking to ride Gem bareback out to pasture. Nash is the perfect kid’s pony when being ridden. It makes up for all his crap on the ground. When Wyatt was up there he paid very close attention to him and shifted himself to keep under Wyatt at all times. For her part, Gem was just very confused about the tiny monkey on her flailing all around and talking non stop. She was good and walked super slowly, but she kept looking at me like “WTH mom?!”

He was so excited after this little adventure that we made plans for a trail ride around the property Monday night. Wyatt really wanted me to ride Gem with him, but Nash uses Gem’s western cinch (it still boggles my mind he fits in her endurance pad and cinch) and I wasn’t about to take her out in my english gear after not being touched in almost 2 months and never being out on these trails. Plus, I wanted both of us there to walk with him and give him the most positive experience possible.

Three adorable butts

He had a blast. Nash was foot perfect the entire time even though he had never been on these trails before and his horse friends were in the barn eating without him. Wyatt felt much more secure in the western saddle and eventually stopped holding the horn and began to steer. I had him randomly stop Nash and ask him to walk on to make sure he had breaks and let Wyatt see that he listens and won’t run off with him. Wyatt has a lot to learn still and really needs to shorten his reins, but every outing that ends with him asking to go faster and explore off property trails is a good one.

The plan is to let him grow his confidence with rides at home while introducing him to the fun of exploring the world on horseback. If he continues to show interest, I’ll start riding Gem with him and fingers crossed we plan to hit up a hunter pace come fall with Dusty on the ground with the lead rope just in case.

A great end to a Monday

Then Tuesday night he asked to ride again! This time I knotted the reins on both sides and had him hold them just in front of the knots. This worked out a lot better and he was able to keep the reins short. He also barely touched the horn.

Wyatt even asked to trot. I got Nash going and Wyatt bounced and giggled. It can’t be comfortable for either of them. I have zero clue how to teach Wyatt to trot tho. Do I teach him to post? To two point? No idea. What I want to do is get Nash cantering so he can go fast without the bounce but I’m worried that will be too much for Wyatt to handle. Will have to do more thinking on that.

For now I’m happy he has regained his confidence and joy.

22 thoughts on “Wyatt Conquers His Fear”

  1. Falling off has yet to happen at our place, and I’m concerned it will be the end of Kaylee wanting to ride. So I’m still committed to making sure every single experience is a positive one. The first time when Joe ponied Zurkh off Socks, my heart was in my throat the entire time as I watched them go. What if one of them lost their mind and bucked? What if Zurkh bucks Kaylee off? ALL of the possible bad scenarios raced through my mind….but…nothing bad happened.

    I know falling off and eating dirt is gonna happen. But I’m hoping it waits until she’s older.

    He stepped on her toes once after I’d warned her to look out. She got mad at him about it, until I reminded her she’d been warned. After a few minutes she walked up to him, said she was sorry and she still loved him.

    My fear is also the trampling or kicking issues. I have 1 aggressive-at-feeding-time gelding and he runs EVERYONE off and he kicks. And, she comes and “helps” me feed (mostly she’s in charge of putting out the bucket for the cow to eat out while I quickly try to finagle horses into where they need to go!).

    It’s just a challenge to find that healthy balance of “Respect for them because they’re large animals” and “Sometimes things happen and we get hurt, but get back on the horse.”

    I’m so SOOOOO happy he got back on Nash and had such a good time!!! That’s so wonderful!! 🙂

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    1. I knew he would fall at some point but would have maybe done it in the tall fluffy grass instead. People pony horses all the time and it makes me so nervous to attempt! I’m lucky that the hunt loves to run and hike and is more than happy to lead Nash down the trail.

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      1. I wish I was a runner or a hiker (well, I enjoy hiking, but at a leisurely pace). I’ve TRIED to like running…I just can’t get into it. Lucky you, because THAT is what I would RATHER be doing so if the balance goes sideways, there’s someone right there to help.

        I can’t wait to see more happy pictures of Wyatt and Nash out riding and making memories together!!! 🙂

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  2. Awesome!! So glad to see Wyatt enjoying his pony and starting to get braver 🙂 I really love that hunter paces in this area are doing a shorter loop which might be a fantastic first outing for Wyatt in the fall! Long enough that he’ll have a blast but short enough he won’t get bored. So win win for everyone!!!

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    1. We need to get the trailer fixed up to be safe for little Nash before we can go out and about. I had hoped to get up the year end Pace as it is less competitive and I figured people would maybe be a bit nicer out on trail. Doesn’t look like the trailer will be modified in time tho.

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  3. Oohhh, Hash. NO BITING! BAD pony. I’d have beat his hiney, too! But seriously, GREAT job, Wyatt, getting back on the horse both figuratively and literally! I’m glad he found his enthusiasm again!

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  4. My son is 5,.but I dont currently have a horse or pony for him to ride, but he seems very similar to your son, so I feel like im getting a glimpse of my future amd free advice 😉 Even though I was bit, stomped, dragged etc as a kid, I know watching my kids learn those lessons will be rough. I think you are dping a great job

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      1. That’s my son too. Eventually they get bored/comfortable then want more. Posting is such an important thing to learn, wish I had younger. Two point is easy to also teach at a walk, as long as there is mane or neck strap.

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  5. When I used to help teach updowns you teach them to post first at the walk, once they have the rhythm down you get them to do it at the trot. Once they get that rhythm down you teach them diagonal (this takes an agonizingly long time)

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  6. Not only was this whole experience ultimately good for Wyatt and Nash, its a good life experience for Wyatt. He probably doesn’t realize it, but things went bad, it hurt, it got scary but he realized he still wanted it and had people who were willing to help him. Now he is riding and enjoying it. It will be great to see him progress, though I’m sure there will be many more ups and downs as he goes along.

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