What's going on when a horse "loves kids" but tests adults? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 11-21-2011, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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What's going on when a horse "loves kids" but tests adults?

I often see horses described as "loving kids" but challenging for adults. I've even seen it in person; horses at the barn where I ride will push an adult to their limits but sedately pony around young children in therapeutic riding lessons.

This is an honest question- what's behind the split personalities? Is the energy kids give off really that different? I don't have children of my own but have been an elementary school teacher and spent time around kids in the company of both horses and dogs, yet really can't pinpoint what makes some horses seem to really get the concept of taking care of a kid.

Obviously I'd never mix a child with a stallion or a green horse (are you reading this people who write the ads that show up in this thread?!) but for your average riding horse, I'm really curious...
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post #2 of 22 Old 11-21-2011, 08:27 PM
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I'm not really sure, but if I had to guess, I would say that it's because kids come without expectations. Horses are masters at self-fulfillling prophicies. I bet there's not a kid out there who expects their horse to misbehave so the horse doesn't. The adult then gets on the same horse, worries about it bucking, running off, etc, and the horse is only too glad to oblige.

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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post #3 of 22 Old 11-21-2011, 09:18 PM
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Agree with MBP. In addition, kids are *usually* not as demanding as adults. While adults are more inclined to jump on with an agenda and ask for very specific things from our mounts, kids are more likely to take a relaxed approach and just ride without looking for results.

Also, kids are lighter which can be easier for older horses.

All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl.
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post #4 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 12:56 AM
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Kids have a special communication with all animals. They seem to communicate with them, using simpler and gentler methods. When they get older, they loose this ability, they get interested in other things for a while, but then they usually come back to horses, but with a different view and training ways and such. Yes we can relearn it, it just takes time. Of course there is exceptions to what I all said, kids can be abusive and worse than adults, but typically it is actually the opposite. Think about it, children are young and they are controlled by the parents/elders. When they are introduced animals, they realize, wow, I can control and be the leader and boss around this animal. They learn leadership, patience, friendship, and many other great characteristics. Usually the kids are so proud they can control this big (ok, not all the time) animal, and 'look Daddy, he is bowing!' and animals understand that they are young and learning, and try as hard as they can to please and learn what the confusing signals the child is giving.

“Good things come to those who wait… greater things come to those who get off their ass and do anything to make it happen.” - Unknown
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post #5 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 10:39 AM
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I don't have an explanation but I've witnessed this as well. Just last night my boy(who despises anyone touching his ears) dozed sedately while a 4 year old brushed and petted his ears. Go figure.
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post #6 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 11:20 AM
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I've seen it with dogs and horses. It's really amazing, and might not be something that science can yet explain. I like to think our Creator had a soft spot for children ("Let the little children come unto Me...") and he built this into our animals as well.

Whatever the reason, it's something that I continue to marvel at and it's one of my favorite things about having animals. My dogs and horses are so "soft" around kids and behave above-and-beyond. I never take that for granted, of course, but can't ever think of a time where they didn't act perfectly for kids -- even when babies poked their eyes or darted under their bellies.
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post #7 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 11:34 AM
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Uh huh, so how do you explain naughty little ponies around children, or horses who just absolutely will NOT tolerate a youngster?

Not every animal is going to get googly-eyed over babies and little kids. My heart horse despised children, and my dog gets very worried around them. She won't hurt them, but she won't let them get near her, either.

I hardly think it's some silly 'mystical' bond that children forget as they grow up. I've heard some really lame, woo-woo garbage before, but that explanation is up there as one of the most ridiculous on record.

Casper loves children. Absolutely adores them. My old retired guy has no use for them whatsoever, and JJ seems pretty neutral about 'em.

Some animals like children, and some do not. I believe the ones that do, know they're young creatures so try to take care of them. Nothing mystical, majickal, or butterfly-farty about it.
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post #8 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 11:47 AM
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Rowan is terrified of children. I force them to feed him treats and they still spook the bajeesus out of him :( poor Ro...

Horses used to buck me off as a child... didn't seem to matter too much to them that I just wanted to walk and trot around!
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post #9 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 11:49 AM
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I have seen it a lot. There was this old Morgan gelding I learned to ride on. When I started, he was quiet and laid back, as I learned more, he tested me more, got to be a real pistol after a while! LOL He would run though the bit, lean on my hands, he even got this habit of curling his chin to his chest and running blind where ever he wanted to go.

A friend of mine had a little girl, she was about 4 at the time, we could put her up on that horse, bareback with lines snapped to the halter and he was the most obedient, quiet and unshakable horse you ever saw.

I even see it with my yearlings with my stepson. I think it is just that they are not intimidated, and have nothing asked of them. They may even respond to the kind of hero worship that kids seem to have with the big animals.
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post #10 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 11:51 AM
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SR, I agree. Maybe its some sort of instinct to take care of the young found in some animals. Not all people get googly eyed over children either but some people and animals do seem to. Maybe its just personality like with people. I can't believe that its mystical etc either but I do find it interesting (particularly since I am not a child friendly person).
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