Helping a horse become kid friendly.
So it's been awhile since I've posted here, but recently I've had a problem that I could do with some advice on.
I can't go into reasons online, but recently a 4y.o girl has been coming with me to visit my horses every time I go down to look after them as she now lives with my family. My gelding is absolutely smitten with her and doesn't care if she gets so excited, runs across the paddock towards him and hugs his legs, as he's usually waiting for her to come to him happily.
I'm huge on safety for both horses and other people, but I'm also one to believe that if there is something that one of my horses are frightened of, then they have to learn its alright, without being forced. Usually my method of reintroducing whatever it is that frightens them and making it a situation where they don't necessarily have it right in front of them, but its a constant, works. However, this doesn't seem to be working well, and I'm at a loss of if its simply more time or not.
My mare, who I've had from 3yrs is not coping with the child completely. Whilst the young girl knows the rules (first thing I taught her was not to surprise a horse or go behind them and 95% of the time she gets this without me reminding her), she's like most kids, lively and in love with horses, so she gets very excited. And whilst my mare normally has a heart of gold, she's reacting out at times. In the beginning, she was showing the young child that she best stay away from her... she wasn't nasty, but she showed me many signs of being uncomfortable because she'd never seen a child before, and didn't know what to do with her. This was extremely apparent when the girl picked up a grooming brush and tried to brush my mare, who pinned her ears back and was having none of that.
The child is never left without supervision, although I do have a dodgy leg, so there has been two incidents where she's run off suddenly and I'm left screaming at her to come back. Thankfully Honey listens to me and knows I'd never purposely put her in harms way, but she just can't accept the child. I thought I had taken away the complete dislike by putting the girl up on Honey's back. They bonded in that space, Honey was over the moon that someone was on her back and stood stock still, looking after her pint size rider whilst I snapped a photo of it. She seemed happy to have the child around her again, but after I had ridden her, and my mare was satisfied that she'd been ridden (first time in months), it went back to Honey disliking the child.
I see it as Honey's extremely jealous. Evo has no problems with the little girl, and in fact he has become more of a pleasure to handle, because he's forever watching himself around her. But Honey seems to always be scowling whenever the child is around, especially near me. I know she'd never hurt the wee girl, but she has threatened once (the child didn't listen to me and tried to go near her and Honey lifted her leg, but I pulled the child who wasn't even near her, back) and I have to wonder if she's jealous and angry, because whenever its just me and her, she's thrilled to see me, snuggles in and follows me around. When the child is there, she tries to get me alone, or avoids me.
My main question is, how do I approach this? The child pretty much comes every time and telling her she cannot come to the ponies is like WW3, we're working on this with her lol. I don't have experienced children skills. However, I do think that they could eventually become comfortable around each other, I just need to know if I'm going the right way with still trying, and making sure the child understands that Honey doesn't like her very much so to give her a wide berth, unless I'm right beside her. I'm one for safety but I don't want to make a big dilemma out of it, giving Honey more to think about.
Thanks in advance.
♥ Seoul Searchin' for the Lovebug ♥