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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.