Bringing your child to the barn creates a whole new set of challenges. You learn to multi-task like a pro, simultaneously watching your child and your horse like a hawk. One step out of line from either can spell disaster. When Carson was around 2.5 years old, Johnny was hand-grazing between us, and Carson, not knowing any better, stepped right underneath him to get to me. I flipped my lid–treating it as if I would had Johnny kicked or bitten me: 30 seconds of holy terror descending upon the culprit and then it’s over. I absolutely terrified Carson to get my point across: he was NEVER, EVER to walk underneath a horse. Did it work? Not really. Johnny is a saint, and Carson has no reason to fear horses. He doesn’t understand why I’m constantly telling him to “get out from behind that horse!!”
I bought Johnny when Carson was 9 months old. I brought Carson out to meet Johnny the next day, and instead of spooking at the stroller, Johnny came over to see what might be inside.
Since that day, Johnny has been nothing short of angelic towards Carson. He might pin his ears at me or air-bite or even angrily stomp his hoof when I do something he doesn’t like, but he’s never put a foot wrong when Carson’s around.
So, yesterday was no exception. I was at the barn, and Carson was with me. Let me paint a picture for you… Here I am, trotting around in my make-shift arena, working on getting Johnny straight and into the bridle–REALLY concentrating. When, out of the corner of my eye (because I still have to watch Carson), I see Carson wandering around holding his crotch. Our conversation goes like this.
Carson: “Momma, I have to pee-pee!”
Me: “Well, go pee-pee! Honey, you don’t have to ask; you can just go when you need to.”
Two laps later, I see him struggling desperately to get the tackroom door open (where the toilet is).
Me: “Carson, honey, you can just pee outside–find a tree to pee on.” (He’s a boy and we were the only ones there–don’t judge me.)
So, Carson drops trousers right where he’s standing and commences peeing. I groaned a little, but it’s not like the horses don’t poop right in that spot. Back to concentrating more on horse. Two laps later, I realize Carson is still standing in that same spot with his shorts around his ankles.
Me: “Carson, if you’re done pee-peeing, pull up your pants!”
Carson: “I can’t!”
Me: “Why not?” (I’m still trotting around)
Carson: something intelligible, but I think I caught the word ‘poop.’
Me: “Did you poo-poo your pants?!”
Everything ground to a halt. Momentary flash-back to a year ago when we were potty training. I hosed Carson down in the wash-rack at the barn more than a few times. But, he’s potty-trained now. He doesn’t poop in his pants anymore. Does he??
Me: “Carson. Did. You. Poop. In. Your. Pants?”
Carson: “Uh. I just got poo-poo in my pants.”
And, of course, right at that moment, Johnny decided to begin a passive-aggressive war. Perhaps he was trying to keep Carson out of trouble–if I was in the saddle, Carson would escape punishment. So there I was, maintaining the same level of contact with Johnny’s fully-locked jaw, and trying to figure out if Carson had really just pooped his pants. This silent struggle for dominance continued for what felt like an eternity before Johnny finally acquiesced and softened. I patted him “good boy” and hopped off, dragging him behind me.
Here’s what actually happened. Carson, while peeing, suddenly realized he also needed to poop. Because he is 3, he doesn’t realize the physics of falling feces. Instead of squatting, he just stood there. So, as luck would have it, the giant poop bounced off the back of his shorts and into the dirt and thankfully not into his underwear.
I commenced careful removal of the offending shorts from Carson while ensuring no poop transfer onto him, me or his shoes. Then, Johnny still in tow, I headed to the washrack to hose off his shorts so the poop remnants wouldn’t dry onto them.
I hung his shorts on the arena to dry in the sun and headed back to clean up his poop pile. By now, Johnny had to seriously be wondering if he was getting out of work so easily. Laundry completed, poop removed, I left Carson in his underwear to finish my ride.
Total distraction time was maybe 10 minutes, but it was long enough for a horse to lose his concentration, so I was a little worried about the quality of the rest of my ride. However, I can honestly say it was the best ride on Johnny I’ve had in quite some time. He’s starting to trust that he can bear more weight on his hocks, so as long as I can funnel him between my legs into straightness, we get little bursts of awesomeness. The injections haven’t been a cure-all, but at least we’re back to dealing with the little things. We were able to work on some of the training level (eventing, not USDF) requirements–stretchy trot, 15 meter canter circles, and a little work on stride lengthening.
Equestrian parenthood presents its own unique set of challenges, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.