Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Late night at the circus

Last night I got to the barn late but managed to ride both boys. My instructor had installed new mirrors along the short side of the arena, and I was eager to see how my gentlemen would react. I walked Armani up to them. He snorted and then gave himself a big, sloppy kiss. At least that's how it looked to me, but I'm sure he was just trying to feel the texture of the mirror and determine if it's edible. Armani always likes to discover if a new object can be ingested. Next I rode Huey. His Thoroughbred side gave the mirror a few sidelong stares but was unwilling to approach. But after a few times around the arena, his Quarter Horse side took over and he simply forgot that the mirrors were there or that he even cared.

Meanwhile my instructor's 5 year old was joyfully jumping and splashing in her new pool while mom planted flowers and dad was working with the tractor. I'm always happy when there's a three ring circus at the barn while I'm riding. I feel like exposing my gentlemen to these things while at home will help them feel more comfortable with similar sights and sounds when we are away from home.

For example a couple of days ago Armani and I passed a new, much larger farm tractor dragging a hay rake while on the trail. Armani snorted at it. But I reminded him (and myself) that we see our farm's tractor at work almost every day. This was just it's big brother. I believe Armani doesn't view the world the way I do. When he sees a new tractor, he doesn't necessarily categorize it in the "tractor" file drawer, the way I can. However, I've begun to feel that exposure to sensory stimuli and situations can help when similar ones are encountered later. Was it my confidence in saying "We know about tractors" that helped him? Did it sound and move enough like other farm equipment he'd already seen? Whatever the reason we were able to go by it.

No comments: