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Friday, May 20, 2011


I'm beginning to discover just how much animal experiences growing up is influencing my animal experiences as an adult.

I remember trailering Minx home for the first time. Minx was given to me in the beginning of 2006, but it was September before I graduated from college, bought a trailer, and found a boarding stable next to my new home.

Minx was my first horse, the trailer was my first trailer, and Minx was the first horse I ever pulled in a trailer.

As I drove the 2 hours home with my horse, the realization started to sink in. I was responsible for this living creature. She depended soley on me for everything she needed to survive and be happy. It was up to me and me only. There was no one else to turn to, no one I trusted in the area to give me day to day advice. I had ridden other people's horses and learned as much as I could about management as a teenager and young adult in college, but I did not grow up riding and managing family horses.

It was extremely sobering and I recognized the responsibility I was committing myself to.

This was very different from bringing my first cat home as a young independent adult. I had owned cats as a kid. Well, that's possibly putting it a bit strongly.... The kids in my family "owned" animals, which meant mom tried to make us as responsible as possible for feeding and caring.....but in the end we all knew for all intent and purposes they were family animals. If we didn't feed, Mom was there to nag (I errr....mean remind....) us. Still, I must have learned something because when I got my first cat as a single adult, I felt very confident in my ability to take care of it - I knew exactly what needed to be done, and was very conscious about doing so (a far cry from my preteen and teen years...). It was familiar. Very different from bringing the horse home.

I must enjoy driving long distances to pick up the animals in my life, because for Tess, Matt and I made a 1 day drive to Burns, Oregon and back (almost 1000 miles round trip). I had plenty of time to contemplate what the heck I had gotten myself into! The taking care of a dog part I had down - again going back to what I grew up with as a kid, there was usually a dog around most of the time. The responsibility of caring for the animal didn't hit me, instead the realization that it was my job to TRAIN this animal did! Again, as a child, I did not grow up with young puppies. everything was close to a year old or a bit older. Not all of them were good citizens - but most of them had figured it out by the time we got them, or had such bad habits ingrained that there was no fixing them. I've never gotten a baby horse, a baby dog, or really any kind of baby that had to be TRAINED....just sorta "guided". While there are some traits that are ingrained by breed or personality, a 9 week old puppy has the potential to be just about anything I want- and it's my responsibility to make sure that I turn her into a animal that lives in harmony with humans and other dogs and is a good canine citizen.

Melinda as a horse owner has turned out just fine, so I assume I'll get over the awe and wonder of it all, and Melinda as a puppy trainer will turn out fine too. Maybe the next step is to combine the two and get a baby horse? I say "no way" right now, but again if you had asked me a couple of years ago if I would have a purebred puppy, I would have said "no way" too. My feeling that I'll continue to prefer the "older" youngsters (6-7 years old please!) with at least 30-60 days of saddle time on them - but nothing is set in stone.

Do you find that your adult animal experiences are influenced by your experience as a kid? Do you find "holes" once in awhile that make you appreciate a certain responsibility more as an adult because you are not inured to it as a kid?

1 comment:

  1. My adult experience is DEFINITELY influenced by my kid experience. As a kid, I couldn't afford lessons so I rode the crazy horses nobody would touch... and here I am, ten years later, still riding the crazy horses nobody will touch.


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