My farrier came out today. We rarely have seen each other for the past year thanks to our schedules, and since he knows the drill and the mares and I all trust him, we communicate mainly through texts and notes we leave at the barn.
But since we had a chance to chat today, I found out that one of the last times Cody was out, a neighbor kid of mine who stops by to visit with me all the time dropped in to help Cody–and then hopped on Friday’s back when he was done trimming.
“I was a little surprised,” Cody said. “He just jumped on bareback, without a halter or anything, and rode her out in the arena out of my way.”
I didn’t know whether to be amused or really angry–or both. I’ve been stern with S. that he is NOT to ride the horses because I’ve been concerned about his safety. Every time I’ve warned him about this, he’ll always start spouting off about how many occasions he used to ride their bucking Arabian stallion back in Idaho, blah blah blah.
It’s funny, I’ve had my suspicions about how he was surreptitiously riding Fry once in a while because I’ve seen her give him some crusty, wary looks on occasion. Well, now I know.
Of course I’m not just worried about his safety, I’m worried because (like any other middle-school-aged boy who plays video games all day) he has all of the sound judgement and attention span of a flea. The one good thing is the arena and barn is right next to a road that’s traveled frequently by all sorts of people who know me (and S.), and he wouldn’t be able to get away with much without everyone in the neighborhood reporting back to me.
I might be willing to give him permission to ride a bit when I was there, but any time I try to mention a way I’m working with a horse or I’m noticing something aloud, all I get out of him is another braggy story about himself or some remark that he “knows that already.”
S. has had a bit of a hard life, and one of his obvious defense mechanisms is to make sure that everyone knows that S. Knows All.
So in other words, he doesn’t listen to me. Or rather he makes a show of how he’s not listening to me. But sometimes I hear him say exactly some of the same things to the horses that he’s heard me say, so I know he’s “hearing” me–at least part of the time.
I have tried to build a friendship with this boy over the past couple of years–even though sometimes I can’t help the sinking feeling in my stomach when I see him running over to see me (I know I’m going to get my ear talked off, and his visits mean “my time” with the horses is over unless I tell him to leave).
I worry about the warning signs I see that’s he’s got really low self-confidence, and so I try to find ways to encourage him by asking his opinion. I ask him to help with chores, and I find ways to compliment his good sense. It takes a village, and I’m always in a good mood when I’m at the barn. Why not?
And I have to admit that I admire him. Or at least I’m jealous of the way he had the confidence to hop up on a horse with nothing but his legs and hands.
I also have to admire my opinionated filly for being kind enough to not dump his scrawny little butt in the dust. (Or maybe she has–but I think I’d prefer to stay in the dark about that.)
In any case, I’ll have to talk to him about him riding her…and make it clear to him what my feelings about this (as if they are even clear to me). Will he deny he did it? This kind of thing is really tricky territory with a kid this age who’s been around a lot of angry, unpredictable adults in his life. Allowing a kid the space to be honest but making sure they know you’re disappointed is tough.
They say good fences make good neighbors, but kids have been climbing fences and climbing on strange horses for a long time. I’ve done it myself once or twice in my storied career as an
Makes you wonder if there’s a reason why you get thrown together with certain people in this life, and how you can wind up caring so much about the exasperating ones.
“Reserving judgement is a matter of infinite hope.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald